R.I.P. Margo MacDonald MSP

Margo MacDonald MSP passed away on 4th April 2014.

An independent MSP, she was truly a voice of reason in an increasingly right-thinking age. She was one of the few sex-positive politicians, and not shy about it either. Margo MacDonald was a fierce proponent of prostitution in Scotland. Unlike other politicians and activists, when she saw a prostitute or a lap dancer, she did not make a moral judgement that what they were doing was wrong. Instead, she saw women who were working, and deserved no less than any other working woman.

A memorial service for Margo will be held in Edinburgh on 25th April.

And now, a few of Margo MacDonald’s greatest hits:

I am a bit puzzled, as the Scottish Government promotes the safer sex message. It is an odd contradiction to ask saunas not to have any condoms in them. (30 October 2013)

I want an assurance from [Richard Lye MSP], if that is possible, that [following the creation of a single force in Scotland that] emphasis will be placed on continuing what was considered to be a successful policy in managing prostitution in the Lothian and Borders and Grampian regions, in comparison with the relative failure of zero tolerance in Strathclyde. (20 June 2013)

What are sexual activities? President Clinton‘s idea of what amounted to sex was different from Monica Lewinsky‘s. I am not being facetious: we have not attempted to say whether “sexual activity” means full intercourse or applies to people who want to engage in rather deviant behaviour but not sex. Are they allowed to pay for that or not, and what does “payment” amount to? Is it a nice night out at the casino and a visit to the races, getting the rent paid or gifts of jewellery? That is real life and real prostitution.
(30 June 2010)

I mention legitimate [sexual migrant workers] means because—some people will not want to hear this—not all those involved [in prostitution] are the [trafficking] victims that Trish Godman and Gil Paterson mentioned. Sex workers, who are already employed in selling sexual services, are also migrating here from eastern Europe. How are they to be treated and evaluated if they are picked up in a brothel? Are they to be treated in exactly the same way as underage girls who have been trafficked against their will and told that they would get a job as a nanny? As a result of our abhorrence of trafficking, we overlook some of the harsh realities that anyone making a policy must deal with. (20 March 2008)

I do not believe that it serves any good purpose for Rape Crisis Scotland to suggest that we can tackle the problems that are additional to the ones that are traditionally associated with prostitution by saying that any woman who is trafficked should be considered to be raped. That would confuse several legal concepts. (6 March 2008)

Will the member [David McLetchie MSP] be of the same opinion as to the validity of driving street prostitution underground if women are killed and more women are beaten up and violently attacked?

Does he agree that the unforeseen consequence of the power in amendment 1—should the Parliament decide to agree to it—could be to further endanger women, given that prostitution would be driven out of sight and out of the control of police forces?

Will the member explain what the purchasing of sex entails? Does money always have to change hands? Would jewellery suffice? How about a nice night out at the casino followed by a few drinks? Would that do? How are we to make that illegal? How stupid! (28 February 2007)

I challenge the contention that all prostitution is violence against women because such a contention is gender specific, which prostitution is not.
…the [anti-kerb-crawling] bill fails to achieve the means of exercising duties of care towards sex workers, who have the right not to be beaten and injured…. (17 January 2007)

 

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Two great pro-sex work blogs

Two fantastic comments relevant to prostitution in Scotland coming at it from a very positive standpoint. Read these, because they have good stuff inside.

And as a reminder, the Consultation on the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) closes on 14 December! Get those responses in!

1. From: Another Angry Woman
“Being anti-rape must not involve being anti sex-work”
http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/being-anti-rape-must-not-involve-being-anti-sex-work/

“Glasgow’s upcoming Reclaim The Night march has a slightly baffling message this year. Rather than being simply a march against rape, it also appears to be a march against sex work.

….

Ultimately, the view put forward by Reclaim the Night displays a devastating lack of intersectional thinking. They are not showing solidarity with their sisters in the face of oppressions other than patriarchy. And sex workers need solidarity: their occupational hazards are violence against women. It is not what they are doing that is violence against women, but what they experience.”

2. From: Feminist Ire
“Taking Ideology to the Streets: Sex Work and How to Make Bad Things Worse”
http://feministire.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/taking-ideology-to-the-streets-sex-work-and-how-to-make-bad-things-worse/

“Those whose primary goal is to ‘send a message’ are worlds away from these women on the street. Their prioritisation of ideology over safety speaks volumes about their own motivations. It’s one thing if they simply don’t understand the practical repercussions of passing laws such as this one, although it’s too important an issue to excuse a lack of research – these are people’s lives we’re talking about here. But it’s quite another thing if their ignorance is a conscious decision.

….

Quiz: Your daughter is doing sex work. Please pick the best option from this limited range.

a) Criminalise her clients, increasing her risk of experiencing abuse, violence and exploitation, and likely incurring her to do business with more clients in order to make up for a fall in prices, while disrupting support networks and making it harder for her to leave the sex industry.

b) Ensure she works in an environment in which she is empowered to make her own decisions, to turn down clients and sexual acts as she sees fit, to access help from services, and to be taken seriously as someone who knows what her own essential needs are.

c) It’s too horrible to contemplate. Just don’t think about it.”

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Two New Consultations on Banning Prostitution Open

Not one, but two consultations advocating “the Swedish solution” to make criminal the purchase of sexual services have been announced in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The first, in Northern Ireland, is part of the Human Trafficking & Exploitation (Further Provisions & Support for Victims) Bill (link here)presented by Lord Morrow. While CAAN is against all forms of non-consensual behaviour – including trafficking for the purposes of sex slavery – CAAN is firmly of the issue that criminalising the purchase of sex is not the way forward.

The second, in Scotland, is a stand-alone bill (Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill (2) from Rhoda Grant MSP) that follows in the footsteps of the earlier bill from Trish Godman. (Mentioned on our Prostitution page.)

Both of these bills amount to hate legislation against prostitution, an effort to drive the industry underground in a flurry of fear and disgust brought on by the fact that the acts involve sex. They may be couched in terms of saving the poor and unlucky victims of trafficking, and may have lofty goals of gender equality, but they will do nought but bring further harm to prostitutes in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

How is this different from the last few times that prostitution has been challenged? This time the anti-sex campaigners are riding a rising right-wing tide across the Western world that has led to discussions outlawing prostitution in France and Ireland. Denmark has also seen prostitution under attack, although the Danes in general were sceptical of criminalising prostitution. The current consultations also seem to be marginally better researched, now that more time has passed since Sweden passed their law.

In both of these consultations, numbers matter. CAAN encourages you, as an individual, to put forward your opinion on these new consultations. You may just have the one argument that turns the tide against the sex-negative campaigners. Your voice counts!

The Northern Ireland Consultation closes 5pm on Thursday 18th October 2012.
You can read the consultation in full with all directions of where to send it here.

The Scotland Consultation closes 14 December 2012.
You can read the consultation in full with all directions of where to send it here.

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41 Extreme Pornography Cases Reported in Scotland Last Year – and 5 convictions

CAAN-Scotland has completed a Freedom of Information Request to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland to determine the number of extreme pornography cases in Scotland. They have replied that from August 2011 to August 2012 there were 41 cases reported, 34 of which were taken to court, and 5 of those resulted in convictions. You can read more about this here.

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Aberdeen Strip Club Application Refused

Shooters, a snooker hall in Aberdeen applied for a change in its license to allow stripping in a separate part of its establishment. After fifteen letters of objection were sent it – including at least two from other strip establishments! – the city council rejected the application “considering the effect of the amenity on the local children at schools, churches and youth groups.”

The objections from the competition – other strip clubs – included worry that it would reflect ill upon the good name of their own establishments which were nearby. Are snooker hall clientele so rowdy that they would cause disrepute upon other establishments? Or is this just a shrewd business deal? “No, let’s not have more competition on the market of strip clubs and allow us to have a monopoly on the post-snooker market!”

But in the end, the council decided on the age old “for the sake of the children” argument. If it’s next door to another strip club, you can hardly claim that it would be more damaging to the children!

You can read about the little-reported news item here and here.

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