First posted here though I was trying to wrap my head around it all week anyway.
SWAI is a huge conflict of interest problem for me, and I am going to be up front and objective about that.
A lot of the problems that are gathered together under the umbrella of “Turn Off the Red Light” are things I have seen before, and, sadly, even regularly in other NGO sectors. There was always one difference to be grateful for, and I have been, that where the majority of NGOs and service providers can ringfence their agenda with the fate of the disadvantaged people who are dependent upon them because, however bad, however inappropriate, there *IS* no alternative.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had to “catch my own hand” and hold off on challenging some terrible things just because of that…the innocent eggs they make sure you will have to break to get the omelette right.
At least until they have forced the Swedish model through (and, little do they know, probably even after that) there is NO WAY Ruhama and other “Turn Off the Red Light” affiliated orgs are able to play a similar card. I can say, without hesitation, that if Ruhama were shut down in the morning it would ONLY benefit sex workers and do no harm at all.
NGOs rise to power on the principle of intercession (which is heavily enshrined within Christianity, but hey, why abandon a good business model just because you adjust your belief system?), They will not admit it (of course, the contrary in fact), but self advocacy is kryptonite for “Civil Society”. The dread it and crush or bury it whenever it rears it’s head (all the while pontificating on some vague abstract of “inclusion” that never actually gets round to including their user group on equal terms as autonomous adults).
Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” constantly strive to do this, and every time a sex worker braves the stigma and dares to speak out their success rate on that takes a nosedive.
The trouble with SWAI is that has always been their long game too, just as my long game has always been to oppose that and fight for true inclusion, not just for sex workers, for anyone who is able to use it (and if you think the kind of ruthless damage Ruhama do to the user group they have laid claim to is anything new or unique, THINK AGAIN…it’s the rule rather than the exception across the board).
SWAI have treated me appallingly from the moment we met in 2011, they do not think of that as appalling treatment because they default to the belief that it is not as if I am a REAL person like them after all. The only “conflict resolution” they have ever attempted towards me consists in trotting out some auld BS and trying to browbeat me, and even threatening to outnumber me into pretending it is a true account.
I am autistic, I cannot do that, and I am an intelligent adult human being, so I shouldn’t have to, but SWAI are not prepared to accord that level of humanity to a former sex worker on a very deep level.
I have always had huge misgivings because of that, because ordinary people often pick up more on a subliminal level than verbally, and the subliminal message SWAI are sending out loud and clear by their ingrained attitude is “Hi, we are PETA for sexworkers”.
Sex workers are sometimes trotted out for display purposes, but not given a full part in the decision making process at all, let alone any power, and this has got worse, rather than better.
I am also deeply concerned by the consistent refusal of SWAI to confront or challenge Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” in any way.
This is another very worrying sublimal message that says:
“This is not a big deal just a bit of auld life-tweaking so don’t mind it till we sort it out among us and let you know”
GODALMIGHTY we have NGOs, cold bloodedly and deliberately placing families and lives at risk for the sake of ambition…that is *NOT* “a wee academic tweek nobody needs fall out over”.
The pure truth, is, of course that whatever way the law ends up, SWAI (and, no doubt, Uglymugs) intend to be laughing, joking and chinking glasses while they carve up the sex work funding and “involuntary intercession rights” at the same table with Ruhama et al…
…and believe me, slamming the doors in the face of self advocacy will be their first shared task.
That is what my mother used call “The Way of the World”…
I am not a child or an innocent, I know that, and I know I cannot change that, but I cannot live with upholding or enabling it in any way. I do not have that kind of hypocrisy in my make up.
…and I realized, SWAI FINALLY have their human ringfence…
Unless they fight this nobody else will be allowed to…and as they fight this they will, like Ruhama, be fighting to establish sex workers as less-than-people for whom their intercession is an imperative.
I can’t support that, nor have any connection with it.
I couldn’t live with the aftermath.
PS. In case you think this is a shot to the foot of the sex work issue, think again. Politicians LAP UP the NGOs they can count on to exclude discretely and prevent any instability in the status quo…and no politician more than the current Justice Minister who practically built her career on it.