Republished with permission from The English Collective of Prostitutes
“Don’t put us out on the streets. Save Soho.”
Soho sex workers and supporters protest against evictions and the destruction of Soho by developers.
PROTEST: 11am, Wednesday 9 October 2013
Outside Soho Estates, Portland House
12-13 Greek Street, London, W1D 4DL
Women in 26 Romilly Street are facing eviction on Wednesday 9 October as a result of a police crackdown. Letters have been sent to Soho Estates the owners, threatening them with prosecution for allowing their premises to be used as a brothel. They in turn have threatened the leaseholders with losing their lease for allowing “immoral activities”. The leaseholders/landlords are ready to evict sex workers and their receptionists regardless of whether there is evidence that the flats are brothels – that is more than one sex worker in each flat. In addition, women in Peter Street flats have been told they are to be evicted in January. It is believed that the evictions are to make way for a major hotel and luxury flats development.
The English Collective of Prostitutes is initiating legal action against this underhand method of closing working flats – if established brothel closure law was followed, police would have to produce evidence that a crime was being committed on the premises.
Tracy, from Romilly Street, comments:
“We will all lose our livelihoods. I’ve been working in Soho for 33 years, first as a working woman and now as a receptionist. We are not criminals. We are mothers and grandmothers supporting families. What other choices do we have to make a living – zero hours contracts on less than the minimum wage in restaurants, warehouses or cleaning? We cannot support our families on that.”
Leyla, from Romilly Street, says:
“I have four children back in Thailand who would not survive without the money I send them. Their lives were turned upside down by the recent floods. I don’t have the option to give up this job. Why is selling our bodies in Soho considered worse or more immoral than selling our bodies in a factory, warehouse, restaurant, bank or university? If I am evicted it is likely I will end up on the street and be less safe.”
Cari Mitchell, ECP, commented:
“Soho is one of the safest places for women to work. What justification is there for the police to pour time and resources into getting women thrown out on the street? The police claim that they are saving victims of trafficking but that isn’t true. They’ve not come forward with any evidence that women are being forced, coerced or trafficked.”
Local residents and businesses have always supported sex workers in Soho. Thousands signed a petition against previous evictions. Many express fears that gentrification is behind attempts to close these flats and that if sex workers are forced out it will lead the way for other small and unique businesses and bars to be drowned out by major construction, chain stores and corporations.
Save sex workers’ livelihoods! Save small businesses! Save Soho’s unique character!
For interviews and information contact: Cari and Laura, English Collective of Prostitutes: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 020 7482 2496 / 07811 964 171.