Scottish Sex Workers Organize for Safety, Industry Standards

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If there’s any one place other than drugs where prohibition has wreaked great havoc, it’s surely in the realm of sex work. Sex workers often face serious physical risk as part of their job. The clients that they work with could be violent or unstable. There is also risk of violence from other individuals involved in the sex work, such as pimps. Even law enforcement me abuse or mistreat sex workers given the opportunity.

The legalization of sex work could protect those that engage in this oldest of professions. Legalization allows for benefits and protections for workers, as well as cleaner, safer environments and consequences for clients who misbehave. Short of legalization, organization may be the best plan for sex workers who want to keep themselves safe. Recently, Scottish sex workers have taken a stand to protect themselves by fighting for and winning the right to join a trade union.

The GMB union has expanded to include a new “adult entertainment” branch. The development of this union is the first step toward pushing for broader protections for sex workers. The hopes are that unionization will allow workers to push for better working conditions, fair pay, and other necessary protections. Given that estimates put the number of sex workers in the United Kingdom at about 80,000, that a significant number of people who have been working without much legal protection.

Sex workers in the United States, where laws in most states are much more strict than those in Scotland, are likely a long way away from being able to safely organize. However, this important step forward across the pond is a poignant reminder of the need for similar reforms here in the United States.

For previousLadybudarticles about prostitution, click here.