Last year it became illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland—following the model of Sweden and Norway. The Home Affairs Select Committee is currently investigating UK prostitution lawsby Joan Smith, Molly Smith / October 13, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Joan Smith (left) is a columnist, novelist and co-chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board (though writing here in a personal capacity). @polblonde
We are in the middle of an epidemic of violence against women. In England and Wales, recorded offences relating to rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse are at an all-time high. The number of reported rapes in London alone (a fraction of the real figure) rose by almost 11 per cent in the year to June 2016. In the same period, over 150,000 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded in the capital. This is a highly gendered phenomenon. Almost nine out of 10 victims of sexual violence are women, as are three-quarters of domestic abuse victims.
Something similar is true of prostitution: estimated numbers of male and transgender individuals vary, but most who sell sex are women. In a culture that tolerates appalling behaviour towards women generally, it is not surprising that women who sell sex are among the most vulnerable to—and suffer the highest levels of—male violence.