Most Brits Support Sex Work Decriminalisation
August 18, 2015
Anyone who has been keeping up with the news over the last week will realise that A) England have just won the Ashes (get in!) and B) Amnesty International have decided to push for the decriminalisation of sex work (get in!) This is a great move as it will mean the day that sex workers are safer whilst participating in their line of work will get closer.
One thing I was very interested in though was whether the general public supported such a move. Those involved in the industry know it is a good thing, but I had this sneaking suspicion that the man (and woman) in the street may have this idea that every sex worker was either drug addled, abused or trafficked, and we therefore needed strong legal action taken against those participating to discourage the practice. However, it seems this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A Yougov poll has found that 54% of Brits actually support decriminalisation of prostitution. 21% percent of people on the other hand oppose the move.
Looking a bit deeper into the study shows that whilst men are more likely to support decriminalisation (65% to 15%) women are also in favour (43% to 27%)
For those who don’t know, prostitution is actually legal in Britain. However, there are certain restrictions such as it illegal for more than one person to work out of a property. This means that women are forced to work on their own, making life a damn site more dangerous.
When asked which arguments they found most persuasive for decriminalisation, the fact that it empowers prostitutes to demand safe sex came top with 42 %. This was followed by reduction of stigma and the chance to report abuse at 39% and the ability for sex workers to share info about dodgy clients at 36%.
The most popular arguments against decriminalisation was that it would expand criminal activities at 37%, it boosts sex tourism at 27% and that prostitution is exploitation, even if it is consensual at 27%. After that it becomes more of a ‘prostitution is disgusting, ban it anyway’ mentality. Those who chose those options need to remember that they weren’t being asked to become sex workers themselves. ‘People should have sex with a partner instead of a prostitute’ (which got 11%) doesn’t really count as a reason to keep the legal framework as it is.
I have to say, this is all very encouraging. It shows that the general public do understand the arguments. If we want to get full decriminalisation, then we will need to have the public on our side. Look at gay marriage; it is only when the public was onside that it was made legal by the politicians.
The battle is on. It is one that will be hard, but with the support of Amnesty International, sex worker groups and the great British public, it is one we can win.