suggested template letter for your MP

I’m writing to you as your constituent to raise a concern that I’d like you to raise urgently with the Home Office. On Friday, three sex workers from Romania were arrested in Swindon and are being held in custody prior to being deported. A fourth Romanian woman at a separate Swindon address was served paperwork by immigration enforcement officers stating she must find ‘legitimate work’ in the next 30 days. (See this news report for details on all four women.)

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SWARM statement on the arrests of sex workers in Swindon

It is absolute salt in the wound of their arrest and imminent deportation that this has been justified with reference to the women’s “safety”. The Detective Superintendent told reporters: “this is a very positive outcome as the women are now safe and away from their clients and are no longer vulnerable to the risks of off-street sex work”. This is brushes over the fact that raids, arrest and deportation in themselves constitute material state violence – and that in being taken to an immigration detention centre, they are being taken to a place where violence against women is endemic. We very much doubt that the women in question today feel safer today than they did when they were working together in a shared flat. 

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Q&A with Laura Agustin: sex work, migration in The Three-Headed Dog

For anyone interested in the politics of sex work and migration, Laura Agustin’sSex at the Margins is a cornerstone text, exploring the way sex is sold, particularly for the undocumented, as people move around the world. Known for her criticism of grossly well-funded, largely ineffective anti-trafficking NGOs, Agustin coined the phrase “rescue industry” and, of this sector, she’s remained outspoken in her condemnation.

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Statement on the Death of Romina Kalachi

ECP and SWARM are devastated at the death of Romina Kalachi, a sex worker found murdered in her flat in Kilburn last week. Our thoughts are with Romina’s family and friends.

Yesterday, Noor Mohammed appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court charged with Kalachi’s murder.

Romina was a migrant from Italy, working in a residential flat in Kilburn. Like many sex workers, Romina was working alone. While selling sex is legal in the UK, sharing the premises with a friend is classed a brothel and is illegal.

Women across the world live under the constant threat of violence and, for sex workers, this is heightened by illegality and stigma. A woman from Leeds recently articulated the threat when she said: “The laws are pointing at us and saying, ‘Nobody cares about you.” Migrant women are particularly targeted for attack.  

Guidelines from the National Police Chiefs Council recommend that police discontinue enforcement of laws which specifically target sex workers; such as brothel keeping and solicitation. Yet thousands of sex workers each year continue to be raided, arrested, prosecuted and even imprisoned.

There is a growing movement, spearheaded by sex workers, demanding the decriminalisation of sex work along the lines of the law introduced in New Zealand in 2003 with verifiable success. This must be an urgent priority for a new UK government before more precious lives are lost.




Statement on the endemic sexual violence perpetrated by police officers.

The news that police forces across England and Wales have have an endemic problem of officers abusing vulnerable or marginalised people, particularly people experiencing domestic violence, people who use drugs, sex workers, and people who have been arrested, is sadly no surprise to SWOU. Many sex workers fall into several of the above categories, and know from experience that contact with the police spans a spectrum from fear-inducing to abusive. 

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Mine to define. Sex workers survivors speak out in our new zine!

We decided to create this small zine to give a little space for survivors sex workers like ourselves to share their stories, analysis, and testimonies… Our lives are complex and often hard to put in to words due to the stigma, shame and guilt associated to both sex work and (sexual) abuse. And what sometimes makes it even harder are these un-nuanced discourses and debates on sex work and prostitution: Happy hooker or victim.  Empowered or abused.  Always one or the other. Never both, never neither.
Nothing is that simple.

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