Prostitution could be about to become decriminalised in the UK
Street prostitution could be decriminalised in the UK if a group of former sex workers manage to convince judges at the High Court in London they should be regarded as victims.
The women will argue they should be considered as modern slavery victims rather than criminals because they were trafficked into sex work.
They will also claim their right to a private life has been breached as a result of their sentences and they should not be revealed.
The group all have several convictions after having worked as prostitutes for years, which could possible hamper them in the future because they can be seen by potential employees.
If they manage to convince the divisional court the law is discriminatory against women then the landmark verdict would effectively decriminalise prostitution on the streets.
Fiona Broadfoot, who is one of the former prostitutes bringing the case, described how she had been forced into sex at 15 after meeting a pimp.
She told the Independent: ‘After more than twenty years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse.’
Another former sex worker who is also part of the case added: ‘I never chose that life and I fought hard to get out of it but I’m always being pulled back to it as though that’s who I am but it’s not who I am.’
Their solicitor Harriet Wistrich said a ruling in their favour would mean the end to women being arrested for street prostitution.
She added this would allow authorities to focus on pimps and people who pay for sex.
The hearing is began today and is expected to last until Friday.
Sophie Walker and Harini Lyengar from the Women’s Equality Party took part in a demonstration outside the court today in support of the former sex workers.