I was interviewed once again over the weekend about my views on the the ill fated Holbeck experiment which took place in Leeds, it was I said doomed from the start.
We know that shortly after the trial began a young lady, 21-year-old Daria Pionko, was viciously beaten to death. Yet the local authorities, the police and other agencies hailed the trial period a success.
Councillor Mark Dobson, who at the time was Leeds City Council’s executive member for Safer Leeds, was quoted as saying: “The evidence is clearly suggesting the pilot is worthy of continuation.” How?
It’s does these women a huge disservice to think that by sending them into so called “managed zone” they are safe. If anything, they are even more vulnerable because by giving them a designated area it risks normalising prostitution- and everything that comes with it. Making them so vulnerable is in no way helping them. It’s criminal that they are offered no real protection or help to move out of their predicament, instead are sent off to an area where they seemingly don’t disrupt the rest of the community.
The truth is these women have not been given extra support or protection. I have heard, anecdotally, how the area is completely void of police presence. Residents are both nervous and angry at their roads have been ghettoised in such a way.
What is even more appalling is that other local authorities across the country are looking to adopt a similar pilot because they have been told the Holbeck experiment was a success, yet they need only to carry out a simple google search to see there is a darker more sinister side to the designated safe zone.
Prostituted women can never be safe, the very nature of what they do carries great risk and to truly protect and support them to move away from prostitution then the local authority must invest in sensible programmes. The overall aim should be to reduce prostitution.
Many of those who fall into prostitution are dependent on drugs, have precarious housing, emotional and physical illness’ and need help to find employment. But with the right kind of investment they could be truly helped and given real opportunity not sent off to a ghettoised area masquerading as “safe zones” where they are vulnerable have no protection or hope to move on from their lives.