What’s Current: Prostitution survivors challenge UK government to expunge solicitation-related criminal records

Fiona Broadfoot, one of the prostitution survivors bringing a challenge against the UK government. (Image: The National)

Sex trade survivors are bringing a legal challenge against the UK government in an attempt to expunge all criminal records for solicitation.

Two Ontario police officers have been charged in the 2016 death of Debra Chrisjohn, an Indigenous woman of the Oneida Nation of the Thames . The officers, Ontario Provincial Police Const. Mark McKillop and London Police Const. Nicholas Doering, are facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. Both officers remain on duty.

Pregnancy remains the number one cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19. Worldwide, nearly 30,000 girls die each year; that’s one girl every 20 minutes.

New report from Statistics Canada shows that sexual assault rates have remained steady over the last 10 years, and more than eight in 10 women still decide not report their assaults to the police. Holly Johnson, a leading researcher on violence against women, explains:

“The reporting rate just keeps dropping and it can’t drop much lower, and the prevalence stays the same. So we’re not making any progress here….I think we just minimize it. We minimize it and we hold women responsible. And until we start holding men responsible and men start holding each other responsible and accountable for intervening, for preventing this, for becoming allies for women working on sexual assault prevention, we’re going to continue to have that battle.”

Lisa Steacy
Lisa Steacy

Lisa Steacy is an Assistant Editor at Feminist Current. She has a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. However, the women she met in her five years as a frontline worker and collective member with Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter deserve almost all of the credit for her feminist education. She lives in Vancouver with her partner and their cats.

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  • Hekate Jayne

    So, again, how many males-with-lady-dick die in childbirth every year?

    I am totally confused about why Trans refuse to answer this. If our biology is just a social construct, then it’s a deadly one.

    I have tried identifying as a dude. Yet, my uterus just doesn’t get the memo. It’s still possible for me to get pregnant.

    And shockingly, I can only get pregnant by a penis haver! Weird.

  • Hanakai

    The attempt to expunge records of solicitation cases in the UK, while seeming a good idea on the surface, has some drawbacks that would best be considered. For one thing, expunging all solicitation records would entail erasing the records also of males working in prostitution, the problem being that many males in the illegal sex-selling industry are also involved in other criminal activity and that information should remain of public record to help protect potential partners, lessors, employers. Do we want to expunge the records of men or women who worked as pimps or brothel owners, who exploited women, and who ended up being found guilty or having pleaded guilty to solicitation. Pimps and madams often plea bargain to the lesser charge of solicitation, instead of the original charges of promoting prostitution and related charges.

    While I would agree that access to such criminal records should be limited so that prostitution survivors would not face discrimination based on that, the idea of destroying records, of destroying history and the historical record does not sit well with me. Many women in prostitution do not have good strong family ties, many are estranged from families, many have essentially no family, no one who cares about them. For these women, court records are almost the only records of them that exist.

    Some years ago there was a serial killer in this state murdering street women and prostitutes. When a woman was reported missing, in too many cases, arrest booking photos were the only photos available that could be circulated in the search for the missing woman or girl. When a body was found, some were reasonably fresh, some very decomposed, some in water, it was identifying information in court records that made it possible to identify the murdered women. I can also easily think of a dozen more reason not to destroy records, but have not the present time or inclination to write a legal brief on it. If you give it a little thought, you will also see reasons to maintain official documents and records.

    So, while on the surface the idea of expunging records initially seems reasonable, any such legislation should be carefully thought through and carefully drafted.

  • lk

    Where is the rage and anger about girls and young women dying from pregnancy and childbirth?

    People protest, rage and weep for aborted fetuses…but where are the tears for the young girls whose lives could have been saved by abortion, could have been saved by contraception use and knowledge of how to avoid pregnancy?

    There are real consequences to denying women access/knowledge about reproduction, to allowing religion to guide our decisions about reproduction, to cutting government funds towards reproductive rights: women suffer and die.

    • Just Passing Through

      Where are the tears? ….exactly! No tears lost for dead girls and women….

  • lk

    “how would sex-ed class go under a queer regime?”

    I don’t even want to think about that. I’m dreading the day when a kid’s science textbook is all like: Girl brain, boy brain, girls have penises too, boys get periods!

    “I once read an article meant to expose the taboo of transmen giving birth. A transmen had quit using the pill because ”that’s a girl’s thing and I am not a girl.” I kid you not. ”

    Oh. My. God.

    This is what happens when we deny biological fact, when we allow people to believe that their feelings trump reality.

  • Lynn

    There was an article all about that the other day on Jezebel on educating Dr’s and midwives on how to “properly” support trans parents during pregnancy and delivery. You will be happy to know that work shops are popping up all over North America to address this important issue. (Eye roll)

    • Liz

      I saw that article! I was shocked at how many of the commenters said they don’t agree with the “pregnant person” thing or that they can’t understand how pregnancy isn’t a women’s issue. On Jezebel of all places! Seemed like a good sign. Although I noticed it wasn’t too long until the usual thought police showed up to shut it down.

  • Just Passing Through

    Ok I know this is a silly comment to make but every time I see that picture of Fiona Broadfoot, I see Ms. Garrett from the Facts of Life. She looks so much like her…lol. ok carry on.