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Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill introduced – your chance to read and comment

June 27th, 2007

Dr Petra

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 has just been launched, and those of you interested in issues of prostitution may be particularly interested in aspects of the bill relating to sex work and sexual materials. You can access the Bill (all 200 plus pages of it) here . Sections dealing with prostitution can be found in Part 6 (pages 71-73), while pornography is dealt with in Part 6 (pages 64-70).

The Bill follows two very disappointing so-called ‘public consultations’ on prostitution and pornography over the previous few years. The prostitution consultation involved poorly designed and unethical surveys aimed at men (who were all assumed to be punters), dodgy questions sent round to outreach workers for prostitutes to answer, and a general overlooking of health and safety issues affecting sex workers. The pornography consultation was even more confused with lots of mentions of evidence of the effects of ‘extreme pornography’ but not referencing of any of this evidence (or appearing to have consulted any of the research in this area), or providing a clear explaination of what ‘extreme’ pornography actually was.

In both cases many health providers, educators, activists and pressure groups felt the consultations were not listening to sex workers or those involved in alternative sexual practices, and even those opposed to pornography and prostitution felt the consultation process wasn’t ethically or fairly conducted.

With the new Criminal Justice Bill there are some gains for sex workers (for example the term ‘common prostitute’ has finally been axed) although there have been criticisms from some sex worker groups and health professionals that issues of health, safety and wellbeing are still not central within the Bill. You can follow more of the debate on this issue at Michael Goodyear’s site.

There have been less positive responses to the way pornography is addressed in the Bill, with activist group Backlash expressing concerns over the definitions of pornography may make the depiction and consumption of some consensual BDSM porn illegal which could have knock on effects to the safety of those who may be abused in non consensual activities. You can read more about the Bill and Backlash’s concerns here.

There is still the opportunity to challenge and lobby on this Bill – whatever your views on pornography or prostitution. You can track the progress of it here.

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