By Sean Fleming – Reporter
There have been many issues raised about England’s first legalised ‘red light district’ in Leeds. Amongst these issues were some generally good points that criticise the legitimacy, as well as raise issues surrounding the safety of sex workers and sex work customers. I do suppose it’s an odd one to comment on because it is regarded as the ‘legalisation of a crime’ and the breaking down of one of society’s greatest taboos.
I’m a proud libertarian, and so will declare my bias before I even start. BUT, who the hell are you to say what people can and cannot do with their own body? Prostitution has been around for thousands of years. It is the world’s oldest profession. Just like the prohibition showed – criminalising something does not stop people from taking part in it. The legalisation of sex work is a brilliant step in the right direction. This will help to generate a much safer environment for the individual sex worker as well as the owners of sex clubs. It will be a much safer work environment because the police are working with the workers, rather than against them. This is crucial as it emphasises the fact that everyone has the right to job security and safety at work.
However, the deep taboos will be hard to break down. These are things such as the liberation of women within the world of sex. I know it might be hard for some people to get their heads around, but women are sexual beings. Shock horror! Women are just as entitled to an orgasm as much as the next man is, but sadly, in modern society, this isn’t discussed as much as it should be. There is other, and more deeply rooted issues that need to be addressed.
Issues such as the fact that women go into sex work because they like it. They like the hours, or they love the fact that their job involves having sex. This is rarely talked about as it is masked by the idea that a woman is only a sex worker because they have a drug habit that needs to be fuelled, or that she has gone through trafficking and has thus been forced into it. Although this is a legitimate issue, and must be addressed, the movement towards legalisation and regulation will aim to help people get out of sex work (forced or not) much easier and without the stigma that surrounds such individuals.
The charity ‘Ugly Mugs’ is an example of a brilliant charity that aims to keep sex work safe for all people, be it workers or users of the sex industry. A quick look at their website is very informative and brilliant for people involved in the industry, even if you’re just looking for information. There have also been movements by the UN – pushing for sex work to be recognised as a legitimate occupation. There are also other human rights based and secular charities such as Amnesty international, who claim that banning sex work is a breach to basic human rights; the right to a job and a right to a personal life. A bandwagon I’m sure we can all jump on.
Other than the obvious safety implications that go along with legalising sex work, there are other benefits to people outside of the industry. One of these being, due to regulation, the industry will bloom and generate tax revenue. I know that this is a minute point, but look at the current state of the economy, every little helps.
Overall, I think it is a brilliant thing that there is a new, legalised Red Light District in Leeds. It’s empowering. It’s exciting. It’s a move in the right direction towards personal liberties as well as recognising women as sexual beings, and having the right to be so.