Annual Report 2005-06

In 2005 the Scottish Executive defined street prostitution as ‘violence against women’, but regretfully has not come up with any real strategy to tackle the disproportionate levels of violence, harassment and abuse actually experienced by street based sex workers. While many of their aims are laudable they have failed to grasp the long term reality of street prostitution within our society and the daily experiences of street based sex workers across Scotland. They have ignored the need to campaign against violence against sex  workers, focusing rather on campaigning against men purchasing sexual services. Surely they could offer sex workers, as citizens, equal protection within society.

Current local authorities’ initiatives have focused on a law enforcement approach to street prostitution, with the growing use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against street based sex workers. However, experience from England has shown that a law enforcement strategy, including ASBOs, does not eradicate street prostitution. In pursuing ASBOs against street based sex workers Edinburgh has failed to follow the good practice guidelines issued by the Home Office, which state that ASBOs should only be used alongside appropriate  support packages. During this period support services that would have enabled street based sex workers to explore realistic alternatives and fast track access to drug treatment services have not been resourced, leaving street based sex workers even more isolated and excluded.

The on-going stigmatisation, scapegoating and marginalisation of sex workers in Edinburgh requires society, and SCOT-PEP in particular, to maintain its essential purpose of delivering practical and emotional support and give voice to one of the most vulnerable and socially excluded communities in Scotland – sex workers.

Throughout this difficult and disturbing year our talented and dynamic staff and volunteer team have continued to operate in an increasingly challenging working environment. We have succeeded, through dedication and partnership working, in maintaining both practical and emotional support to street and indoor based sex workers and providing a vehicle for the voice of sex workers, within an ever increasingly hostile atmosphere, and with limited resources.