This is our truth, tell us yours
Some of you may have seen the post I wrote this morning for the excellent End Victim Blaming project on the media reporting of the murder of Maria Duque-Tunjano. The Evening Standard has not been the only offender though. The Mail described her working flat as a vice den, a surprise no doubt to her well-heeled neighbours, and the Express is speculating that “another Jack the Ripper” is at large.
Working flats are a feature of sex work. In the Uk if 2 or more sex workers share a premises then it is defined as a brothel. They could be flat mates, or renting a place specifically for work, the law doesn’t care, and as the Soho raids showed putting vulnerable women on the streets is preferable to them working in safety. Even our partners are at risk under current UK law, since our patriarchal justice system cannot accept a woman choosing to sell sexual services of her own violation. We “must” be controlled by a man, and so our partners are prosecuted as our pimps. Thus very basic safety measures, having someone with us when we work are denied by a system that says we are victims and pushes us away from looking after ourselves.
Which is when I begin to get weary, I can feel the despair growing in me as I write. Instead of being able to campaign for a simple change in the law that would allow us to work with others, to have someone on the premises, a change that might have saved Maria, time and energy is spent fighting other women who want more laws to criminalize sex work.
I want to show them a picture of Maria and ask what their moral crusade has to say to her partner, her sister, her friends? Her attacker was a brutal, violent man who would not be deterred by making sex work illegal. In fact as research shows over and over again the Swedish Model and criminalization drive away the safe clients and leave us with those willing to break the law. Why is it not obvious to swerfs that if a person is willing to break one law then they are more likely to break others? Why can they not step away from hating all men and demonizing those who do us no harm in order to protect women from dangerous men?
The only answer can be that this is ideological to them, and their ideology accepts the bodies of dead whores, lying undiscovered for days, bludgeoned to death, as collateral damage.
The news from Edinburgh today, and the ending of the licencing of saunas, shows the crusade against safe working conditions has gained a another victory. Think about that, feminists and their male supporters are actively working against safe working conditions for a vulnerable group of women. Imagine if it was any other industry, if they tried to make the workers less safe, and had the support of the police and powerful politicians? Previously the women who worked in the saunas did not have to take Maria’s risks, had companionship and someone who could come running when a violent man tried to murder them. Feminism has thrown women onto the streets.
We all know just how safe the streets are, the dead of Ipswich and Leeds and a million other cities where women were left to stand on street corners with only gut instinct to save them tell us. No doubt those who want criminalization and the closure of saunas believe the women involved will simply get another, patriarchal feminism approved job. Sweeping floors or stacking shelves, 50 hours a week of soul-destroying minimum wage work, but acceptable to those who think any woman who deviates from sexual monogamy gets what they deserve. Assuming of course they can even get a job. I suppose swerfs also believe Gideon’s claim of economic recovery. I doubt they have ever had to choose between heating and food, nappies or sanitary towels. I doubt they have had to cope with job hunting with criminal convictions either.
Tonight women have lost another safety measure, and no doubt people like Mary Honeyball are celebrating. Deep down I fear they are also celebrating the death of Maria, one less whore, one more statistic to throw in our faces, one more woman to use to take away our rights.