The Guardian has published a letter I sent following news that a former sex worker from New Zealand has been made a Dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the industry. You can read the letter in full below and the edited version on the Guardian website is available here.
RE: New Zealand former sex worker becomes a dame in Queen’s birthday honours
It beggars belief that a former sex worker from New Zealand has been
awarded Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to
the rights of sex workers.
Honouring Catherine Healy in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her work
condones prostitution. It is something the new Duchess of Sussex, who as a
self-proclaimed feminist, will surely have a view on?
It is well known that pilot schemes in the UK, where designated safe zones
were tested, have not worked. Most notably in the Holbeck area of Leeds
where a decriminalised zone was created so women could work in apparent
safety. It was during this pilot, and within the decriminalised zone, that
the brutal murder of a sex worker took place.
Women remain vulnerable even if in a seemingly controlled environment.
It’s never safe to work as a sex worker and creating such zones does
nothing to protect women. At best it creates an unsafe ghetto in which to
To celebrate the activism of someone who has been so instrumental in the
decriminalisation of something that has such negative consequences on
vulnerable women and vulnerable parts of society is reckless. Normalising
prostitution is not something that should be celebrated, and it does not
help vulnerable women in any way.”
Sex work has catastrophic and devastating consequences on women’s lives.
Bestowing such an honour for work which can have such life long and
terrible consequences on women’s lives is wholly inappropriate.”
Labour MEP for London. Labour’s spokesperson in Europe for gender and