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Despite the Government’s endorsement of exit programmes, sex workers’ rights campaigners have raised concerns about such projects, accusing their promoters of “pimping” on the agony of prostitutes.
Cari Mitchell, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, questions the kind of alternative that programmes like U-Turn give to women. At the moment, “there are so few jobs, welfare is also being cut, which is already not enough to cover the costs of raising children – so, the pressure remains”, she says: “in the face of rising poverty, what are people being exited into?”.
The English Collective of Prostitutes says exit programmes are “financially driven” and have been “taking money from the Government”, without “addressing serious issues that drive women to the sex trade” in the first place.
Bearing in mind that women who leave prostitution have to look for a new job with the handicap of a criminal record, the English Collective of Prostitutes suggests such issue could be addressed if sex work laws were to be changed and sex work decriminalized. And therefore she asks: “why are these exit programmes doing absolutely nothing to press for prostitution to be decriminalized?”.
“Many of these projects are also on a moral crusade against prostitution and, instead, are pressing for clients to be criminalised”, Ms Mitchell says: “that results in women having to take more risks on the street because clients are more nervous and force them into greater danger”.
“These organizations are merely pimping on the agony of prostitutes’ criminalization”, Ms Mitchell says: “they are taking money on the backs of the agony of working in a job that is criminalised and which forces you to take risks and to put yourself in danger”.
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