Unionized sex workers have joined, this morning, the public sector strike against pension changes. But, while sex workers protest on the streets, the human rights group OBJECT says the strikers’ stance that “prostitution is just another job” is “seriously misfounded”.
As Under the red light reported this morning, the sex workers’ branch of the GMB trade union has decided to show their solidarity with the other unions that organized the action (most of them, teaching unions), by joining them on the picket lines spread across the country.
The branch’s President, Thierry Schaffauser, said that the sex workers that joined the picket lines were also calling for a change in sex work laws, as well as for measures against violence and exploitation inside the sex industry.
Asked to comment on the union’s stance, the human rights group OBJECT provided Under the red light with a statement, where it recognises the sex workers’ right to strike. It also agrees “with the GMB and its networked groups”, saying that “those involved in prostitution should never be stigmatised, never be abused and should never have been criminalised”.
However, OBJECT’s CEO, Sasha Rakoff, writes on the statement that “the GMB and its supporters stance that ‘prostitution is just another job’ is seriously misfounded”.
According to her, “high levels of abuse are invariably involved in both the factors that lead women (75% of women in the industry start as children) into the sex industry”, adding that “this abuse continues once within it (the mortality rate for women in street prostitution can be up to 12 times the national average)”.
From OBJECT’s point of view, decriminalizing prostitution, as asked by the sex worker’s branch of the GMB union, is not an option, labelling such policy as a “failed social experiment”. Instead, the human rights group says “tackling the demand for prostitution is the only policy that works” – a policy adopted by Nordic countries.
Saturday, 2nd July 2011, 19h48: Following the publication of this post, the President of the sex workers’ branch of the GMB Union, Thierry Schaffauser, commented on his blog on what had been said by the human rights group OBJECT.