We need to listen to the people who have gone through such awful times in their lives. They have survived and have something to say about it. I commend them on their bravery. Guess what? They are speaking out. Certain people do not want them to be heard and efforts are made to discredit them.
I think I’ll just leave my side of this old, stonewalled, dialogue here:
On 25 Jan 2013, at 04:06, “Gaye D” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Marcella Corcoran Kennedy,
You said something in the hearings that struck me forcefully:
“I am looking at the consensual point. Is a person being consensual if he or she is forced into this work simply because there are no other opportunities? Is one consensual if somebody else is controlling one’s actions, for whatever reason? ”
It struck me because EXACTLY the same principle applies equally to allowing certain elements of NGO sector to define and control sex workers while demanding legislation that is against their stated wishes and best interests and is designed to force them to engage with those same NGOs against their will (most sex workers are genuinely horrified by Ruhama and affiliates, with cause, and want nothing, whatsoever, to do with them) by systematically damaging their earning capacity.
If you would not listen to a pimp speaking for sex workers, then you should not be listening to adversarial “Turn Off the Red Light” NGOs (with a vested interested in sustaining and increasing their funding through the “Swedish Approach”, too much of which is already dissipated in huge salaries, expenses and junkets).
You need to be listening to sex workers, not the NGOs who feed off them, and UNTIL you listen to sex workers (and even take the initiative to persuade some of the streetworkers to come in independently of the NGOs) you will know nothing about them or their lives and needs at all.
Sex workers are intelligent adults, just like you, who deserve full autonomy even in the Oireachtas and can, and MUST speak for themselves.
From: “Gaye D” <email@example.com>
To: “‘Marcella Corcoran Kennedy'”
Date: 25/01/2013 10:57
Subject: RE: Sex Work Hearing
Thank you for responding to me but I must come back to you because I feel you have not realised what it means to treat sex workers as autonomous adults yet. Sex workers are the primary stakeholders here and should have been the very first brought in to speak, not a possible afterthought after NGOs who determinedly misrepresent them.
There is no way that even represents giving them personhood let alone autonomy.
In the event of “ending the demand” a significant number of sex workers will not be able to survive, let alone keep their families together in the current economic climate. Yet their voices have no priority at all over NGOs who actively strive to silence them and oppose their best interests (it is NEVER, of it’s very nature, in anyone’s best interests to have their income taken away in a deep recession).
How would you feel if your own future were to be based almost entirely on consultations with your greatest adversary, and strangers who know nothing about you except what they have been told by your greatest adversary, with only a vague chance of you getting to offer a little input, or even plead for mercy, at the end if there is time?
That is exactly what these justice committee hearings are amounting to from the point of view of sex workers.
From: Gaye D [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:00 PM
To: ‘Marcella Corcoran Kennedy’
Subject: RE: Sex Work Hearing
Do you know you are the first person to think of asking that question?
I am the author of, what I am told, is the longest submission made (77 pages, including, with permission a report made for the Dail in the 80s by a man called Jim Finucane when he was only 23. Which if you read nothing else of my submission I would recommend to you as an absolute treat in terms of the sensitivity with which it was written).
I was a survival sex worker mostly on Waterloo Road between 1987 and 1993. I was also Ireland’s second sex worker activist in that I campaigned in my own right against the 1993 act until 1998 until Sinead Kelly was murdered and got such a touching funeral that I knew I had achieved my objective in making people see sex workers, not as some form of human vermin to be controlled, but as human beings who are often far more sinned against than sinning.
My knowledge of the sex industry goes back much further than my own participation in it, as the older wiser women who kept me on track during a teen pregnancy in the 70s were all sex workers, and I came to know many others in between.
I have known of Ruhama and the Women’s Health service since they began, and been quietly appalled by the ruthless reality of both, and the deliberate misinformation they disseminate over many years until it got to the point where I had to stop keeping track because they made me so angry all the time.
I am also a high functioning autistic with compound post traumatic stress disorder that predates sex work by many years, and in that capacity have had the opportunity to become only too familiar with the shortcomings of the NGO sector overall that seems to do nothing but overpay itself to exploit and abuse it’s user groups as cash cows while excluding them from all input and participation in decisions regarding their own futures at Government level. The parallels with the sex work NGOs are striking.
Of course, as an autistic I am the last person to be appropriate to represent (or even participate in) any group, that is outside my limitations, but I do have the skills to put up a tremendous fight to get them into a position to speak for themselves, and give them all the encouragement I can to do so and I have dedicated the past year to doing just that. So that anyone who ever finds themselves in the position that I did (and may again), with no other means of survival or reasonable quality of life will be able to use the income from sex work to survive and help themselves without let or hindrance.