Soho sex workers to walk out on strike on Friday night
Organisers say women 'will refuse to do sex or work for money'
05 March, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Campaign calls for decriminalisation so sex workers can secure better conditions
SEX workers will walk out on strike on Friday night demanding decriminalisation and better working conditions.
Soho women will protest in Leicester Square from 7pm and form pickets in an action coinciding with International Women’s Day.
Organisers say sex workers will “refuse to do sex or work for money” and will not carry out domestic or care work and “the jobs that keep the system ticking over”.
Campaigners are trying to change laws that criminalise those who work in groups, forcing many to take risks by working alone. Legalising this aspect of the sex trade would allow sex workers to unionise and demand better pay and conditions from unscrupulous brothel bosses.
Sex worker Lydia Caradonna, 21, said: “I’m striking because my brothel manager continues to increase the amount of money she takes from us, and threatens our jobs when we try to object. I need decriminalisation so that I am granted the same protection as other workers, and the ability to unionise.”
The strike – backed by organisations including the Sex Worker Advocacy Resistance Movement, United Voices of the World and the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) – follows the lead of strippers who have began unionising workplaces and taking on bosses and unfair conditions across the country. Many have won thousands of pounds in compensation after only a few months of organising.
The ECP argues that women have been particularly affected by austerity and low pay and have been forced to take on degrading jobs like cleaning or factory work. Sex work, for many women, is a logical step away from the “grinding poverty” facing women in daily life.
Molly Smith, sex worker and author of Revolting Prostitutes book, said: “I’m striking because criminalisation prevents us from access to basic labour rights and safety. We are forced to work alone or risk arrest. The criminalisation of sex work is one of the many ways in which patriarchy and capitalism conspire to exploit all women’s labour, whether we’re working in the home, the office or the brothel. Sex workers and other feminists are on strike to demand that society values women’s work and women’s safety.”