Annual Report 2001-02
The world has remained a cruel and unforgiving place, at times, and the situation of sex workers continues to leave them vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. The new millennium brought dramatic changes to the lives and increased the vulnerability of women working on the streets of Leith. In April 2001 complaints from residents around Coburg Street resulted in the area designated for soliciting being significantly reduced, causing conflict and disruption amongst the women working in the area. However, this did not resolve the concerns raised and on 15 August 2001 Lothian & Borders Police established a new non- residential area of tolerance for soliciting on Salamander Street. After two weeks of intense lobbying from local residents and businesses the experiment was deemed to have failed and on 1 December 2001, World AIDS Day, the street prostitution policy adopted for almost two decades in Edinburgh was abandoned.
The achievements of eradicating the involvement of under 16 year olds in the sex industry over the last two years, reducing violence against street sex workers and other crimes normally associated with red light areas to unparalleled levels and reducing levels of sexually transmitted infections amongst sex workers to lower than that amongst the general public all stand to be lost.
The stigmatisation and further marginalisation of sex workers in Edinburgh requires society, and SCOT-PEP, to maintain its essential purpose of delivering practical and emotional support to one of the most socially excluded communities in Scotland - sex workers.
Throughout this turbulent and challenging period our talented and dynamic staff and volunteer team maintained practical and emotional support to street sex workers and continued to further develop support and outreach services for indoor sex workers whilst dealing with the constantly changing and uncertain environment within which we were operating services and continuing the on-going battle to combat the social exclusion and isolation of sex workers in Edinburgh.
Our thanks to all who have supported us in the struggle to maintain a safe environment for all sex workers in Edinburgh and especially to those who have shared their time and experience with us.