This is the one that really hurt me as a human being.
Out here is my safe place…wherever I go everyone goes out of their way to be kind and helpful. They don’t ask your politics, they don’t ask your religion, they don’t need to, they know your face and/or your name, and they know you are a neighbour.
I really thought Billy Timmins was part of that, he had always seemed to be. I never bothered him with the sex work issue because I know he is strongly tied to the religious right, and not putting each other on the spot is another thing neighbours do for each other.
However, it would be churlish indeed to suppose that a neighbour would not do all he could to help me out of a spot like having my full name and contact details published by Stormont for spite and intimidation along with the fact that I was a sex worker. He would also know how important my home is to me, and how remote and vulnerable. So on 30 May 2014 I mailed him to ask for help with this matter alone. True to form I received a very kind reply the next day and felt that the nightmare (it’s not clever to post too much about how broken and terrified you are among ruthless enemies online) would soon be over. It trusted, I waited…until 23 October 2014 and emailed again. He replied with an assurance that he would be in touch.
By 15 November 2014 I was far less trusting and not a little cynical so I set him this email (part of which I would copy to Stephen Donnelly 4 days later). I was mindful of his affiliations and felt this was not any conflict of interest:
From: Gaye D [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:29 PM
Subject: Can You Raise a Question in the Dail For me
Obviously you did not manage to get anywhere trying to get Stormont to redact my private address and phone numbers from their report on Prostitution. Not your fault, let us say I have picked up an understanding of Stormont somewhere along the way in the past couple of years.
It hit me, a couple of days ago that they published my contact details *BECAUSE* they hope someone will harm me, in a way they will never have to answer for, it upset me so much I nearly ran the car off the road. The miracle to take to the grave is that, so far, I have not received so much as a nasty phone call, which, perhaps, tells a deeper, better, truth about human nature that I would never have otherwise had reason to suspect?
Anyway, I am wondering if you could raise a question for me in the Dail? I understand politics pretty well and I wouldn’t ask if it were not a neutral (if loaded) question. I already managed to get the question into today’s Irish Times:
Here is the text. I don’t think anyone could dispute it:
Sir, –To date the majority of people discussing the future of sex workers in Ireland do not, and have never sold sex in any way and never will, with the understandable result that most of them are mistaken about the facts of the issue.
I do not believe that there is any moral justification for the issue to proceed further without an opportunity for people who have worked in the sex industry to challenge those misconceptions autonomously and on equal terms in public debate, something with which, to date, the main protagonists have declined to engage.
If it concerned any other subculture or social group this state of affairs would be considered appalling.
Because of the stigma attached to sex work, it is hard for sex workers to feel comfortable engaging with such a process, but stigma should not cancel out human rights. – Yours, etc,
No, I am not running or hiding (though I would have preferred the IT to be a little less location specific but I suppose they assume Donard is the same size as Naas), there is no point now is there? This is my home of 25 years and the only real home I ever had, as an autistic with compound PTSD it is also pretty much my whole world. I would not survive moving anywhere else…so come what may. But I would not do this without very good reason. If you are at all interested in why I would risk so much here is an interview from KFM 28 October 2014 :
Apparently half the village heard it, and I have overwhelming support. Nobody has said an unkind word. Maybe it is time more people like me stopped acting as if we had done something wrong when we haven’t while the NGOs plough our lives and futures under for power and profit?
Thanks in anticipation for whatever you feel you can realistically do.
I received no reply.
I also sent him this email, on 26 February 2015
In this one case I did hope for an answer, and sure enough I got one March 2 2015 the day after I was involved in a very serious car accident. I did not even see that reply for 7 days.
I replied with thanks 9 March 2015, but the truth was dawning.
The advocate of a friend of mine advised me to go to the information commissioners which I did on 11 March 2015 to find that, apparently, this was a very serious data protection breach any TD, Journalist, or Solicitor would have been fully aware of and could have advised me of at any time. I also found out that there was no trace of anyone contacting them on my behalf.
Renua was formally launched on 13 March 2015 (and announced days earlier).
Even so, I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to go on being a schmuck and believing in the kindly neighbour TD I could always turn to as a last resort in trouble.
So 14 March I sent this email, I still do not believe what I asked was any real conflict of interest (unless refusing to hear facts has suddenly become an official pillar of the religious right) :
From: Gaye D [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2015 12:51 PM
To: ‘Billy Timmins’
Subject: Stormont, Sex Work and Renua
I am sure you will be pleased to know that the Stormont Justice Committee finally took my address and phone numbers down off the internet on Thursday morning after representations from the Information Commissioners Office in Belfast. Apparently it involves several serious beaches of the data protection act and will be fully, and impartially, investigated.
If Renua will pledge to support evidence based sex work legislation as opposed to the entirely self serving “Turn Off the Red Light” propaganda machine I will be happy to campaign for you. I understand this is a tricky issue for a new political party but you will only gain support by insisting upon evidence based legislation and consulting sex workers directly and confidentially. Most of the member of the organisations signed up to the “Turn Off the Red Light” campaign have never been balloted about membership and are unaware of it. At no time has any organisation consulted any real sex work or allowed anyone who opposes “Turn Off the Red Light” to address their board or their members, as a result few have any idea of the reality of the situation they have signed up to.
I believe that the high level of hereditary self employment in the farming communities with make them more receptive to offering sex workers the support services they need to help themselves with the market they depend upon to do that intact than to using legislation to coerce sex worker into long term NGO and welfare dependence they have already chosen to reject. I also believe that if Renua were to incorporate a similar level of support for evidence based legislation to that previously expressed by Alan Shatter they would, handled right, attract significant sympathetic attention in other areas and give people cause to open their minds and think twice about the party as a whole.
I would like to arrange a meeting with you to discuss this at your first convenience. This is a summary of the likely impact of legislation currently proposed:
This short video is a summary of what I have to say (and also, I hope, reassure you that I am not “too weird to meet with”):
I was a survival sex worker in despair and utter desperation when I first moved out here 25 years ago. I have opposed Ruhama and the other origins of “Turn Off the Red Light” for all that time because they are deceitful, abusive and consistently strive towards self serving agenda that makes life far harder and more dangerous for all sex workers and leads to funding for resources that are between useless and detrimental because they are based upon deliberately crafted propaganda rather than facts and have absolutely no relevance to the real needs of sex workers.
Nobody is allowed to challenge them, and nobody ever asks them to substantiate anything. As a result the “Turn Off the Red Light” campaign is based on a staggering amount of barefaced lies. The truth is that sex workers, *ALL* sex workers, however happy, desperate, or somewhere in between hate and fear Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light”, and sex workers are adult human being who should have the same right to self determination and autonomy as any other adult, not have that usurped by NGOs they loathe and refuse to engage with.
In case you are wondering how a genuinely vulnerable autistic who cannot cope with interaction and the basics of life can know and express all of this (and more). I believe this will explain to your satisfaction:
https://mymythbuster.wordpress.com/myth-i-have-the-right-to-life/ . My life and potential were utterly destroyed from the start.
I received no reply…not an acknowledgement, nor a polite refusal…nothing.
A piece of the safe world that gives me the little peace and safety I have in this life utterly betrayed me, and killed a little part of me.