Sex workers in the UK can expect a fair deal. A national pilot scheme to help protect sex workers from violent and abusive individuals has been announced by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone.
The launch coincides with International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which aims to raise global awareness of this issue.
The development is significant for the foreigners in UK, as only recently an inquiry found that the victims of human trafficking, including women, were forced into the sex industry or trapped as unpaid domestic servants. They were being unfairly treated as criminals and illegal immigrants.
The investigation by Lady Helena Kennedy QC concluded the police and immigration authorities failed to see thousands of women, men and children trafficked into Britain as the innocent victims of organised crime whose own basic rights have been violated.
As per the report in the Guardian, Kennedy found there was a significant “intelligence gap” in the police and enforcement agencies about the scale and nature of trafficking.
“The cultures of the different parts of this world of enforcement are incredibly different. We found that people who are serious victims get treated as if they are criminals,” she said.
Kennedy’s report to the Scottish office of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), published after an 18-month inquiry, calls on the UK and Scottish governments to introduce legislation and criminal justice policies which will tackle trafficking as a particular crime and support its victims.
The Home Office said the 12-month pilot will bring together locally run ‘Ugly Mugs’ schemes, which encourage sex workers to report incidents of violence. Details of perpetrators are then shared with other sex workers to help improve safety, and can be passed on to the police if the victim consents.
The Home Office is providing £108,000 to establish a national online network to collate and distribute information between ‘Ugly Mugs’ schemes in local areas.
Lynne Featherstone said: ‘The government’s ambition is to end all forms of violence against women and girls. This includes protecting those involved in prostitution, who are particularly vulnerable to violent and sexual crimes.
‘Ugly Mugs’ schemes encourage individuals to report incidents so that others can be safeguarded in the future, and more perpetrators can be brought to justice.
‘Local agencies are best placed to find solutions to local problems but where schemes are effective in protecting individuals and communities we want to share information and best practice.”
The initiative will be run by UK Network of Sex Work Projects.