BBC1 Inside Out – Documentary Investigating Policing of Prostitution in the South East – Monday 13 Jan, 7.30PM

Inside Out - Merseyside model 750A short documentary investigating the policing of prostitution in the South East will air on Monday 13 January at 7.30PM. It will compare this with the Merseyside hate crime model, which leads the country, ensuring people in the sex trade feel safe to report crimes committed against them and perpetrators are convicted.

As well as airing on BBC1 in the South East region, the documentary can be watched across the UK on BBC iPlayer and on Sky channel 963 and Freesat 959.

At 7AM on Monday morning I’ll be on BBC Radio Kent discussing the Merseyside model with Clare McDonnell and at 10AM I’ll be interviewed about my past in prostitution by Julia George.

A clip from the previous BBC1 North West documentary on the Merseyside model can be watched worldwide on BBC News here.

The BBC1 London Merseyside Model documentary can be viewed on iPlayer here.

For more information on the Merseyside model click here.

Please add your name to the Change.org petition calling for the Merseyside model to be made law UK wide.

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – 17th December

Every Sex Worker Deserves SafetyI wanted to write something for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers but I didn’t think I could as I’ve been in too much of a dark place these last few weeks with my own suffering from the repercussions of sexual violence. I wanted to go to London to stand in solidarity with sex workers and allies to mark this day, but for the same reasons, tonight, I couldn’t do that either. Then I felt selfish wrapped up with my own pain when tonight there will be women in the sex trade who will be raped, who will be beaten and some will be murdered. So I have to say this…

Violent men think they can beat, rape and murder women in the sex trade because they do not have the protection of the police and recourse to justice. Then there are some feminists who say all sex work is violence and rape. If this is so, how can anyone in the sex trade report violence or rape against them, if it is all the same? Let me tell you, because I have lived this, it is not. There is nothing remotely similar between clients who respected my boundaries and clients who raped me, or the client who beat me. This complete disparity must be recognised so the police do take notice and deal with the rape or violent attack we’ve suffered as they would any other victim. If our friend, sister, mother or daughter is murdered by a client, it was never part of their job!

Most people in the sex trade do not have other choices, many are in poverty, and for those who do have other choices and still choose to sell sex, every single person deserves the same respect from all of society and the same protection of the police and recourse to justice when they have been the victim of a crime and for that to happen, the Merseyside hate crime model must be made law UK wide.

The hate crime model is not just about classifying crimes against people in prostitution as hate crimes; it is so much more than that. There are relationships built between people in the sex trade and sex work projects, between people in the sex trade and the police, and the police work closely with the sex work projects. There is a dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who supports the victim of crime from report to court. And for all this to work, the police prioritise protection of people in the sex trade over enforcement of the law. This means in Merseyside, people in prostitution are not viewed as ‘easy targets’ by criminals as they are throughout the rest of the UK.

And to prioritise protection over enforcement that means that when a woman, man or transgender person reports a crime committed against them, the police deal with that crime and treat that victim of crime as a victim and not a criminal, as is known to happen in the rest of the UK where the victim of crime is instead charged for something related to prostitution. So in Merseyside, the police do not charge them for working in premises with another woman for safety, which is classed as running a brothel, they do not charge them for soliciting if they were working on-street, they do not charge their university student twenty-year-old son or their elderly mother who lives with them for living off immoral earnings. They deal with the crime reported against them and treat them the same as any other victim of crime.

Knowing this is what has increased reporting of crime in Merseyside, is what brought about a 90% conviction rate of those who raped sex workers in Liverpool in 2009 and a 67% conviction rate for those who raped sex workers in Merseyside overall in 2010, is what has made all of society safer by taking off the streets more rapists, murderers and other violent criminals and what means there are fewer rapes, other violent crimes and murders.

What is operating in Merseyside is a discretionary decriminalisation of sorts. Decriminalisation is needed for the safety of people in the sex trade. It does absolutely not decriminalise sex trafficking. There are laws in place already that need to be upheld when a man pays to have sex with a sex trafficking victim, because that is rape every time. There are laws in place already that need to be upheld when a man pays to have sex with a child. This is child sex abuse. That money has changed hands does not make this anything other than child sex abuse and it needs to be treated as such. There also needs to be tougher sentences for trafficking in persons, which is already a crime.

To the people currently seeking to abolish prostitution, in a capitalist society what you are actually saying is abolish prostitutes because there is no money for exit routes; our UK government here is not going to invest in this if it even has the money. Most people in prostitution are in poverty. Shelter estimate there are 80,000 children who are homeless. If their mothers choose to, and it might be their only choice so there isn’t a real choice, but if they do, sell sex so they don’t end up homeless, or to take them out of the temporary accommodation homelessness has left them in and in which over half have witnessed disturbing incidents, we as a society need to make sure they are as safe as they possibly can be. We need to end poverty. That is what we should be seeking to end, not demand. This is the wrong fucking way round. And I can’t see why people cannot or will not see this.

As we’ve seen in Scotland when clients of women working on-street are criminalised, the women are left mostly with the more dangerous clients, murderers and rapists, and they have to see more clients for less money and they have to agree to sex acts they don’t want to do because of lack of clients. And you might argue that they do not have do this, but if their home is freezing because they have no money for gas, if their children have lived on porridge for a week and they want to buy them some meat, if they are about to lose their home because they are in rent arrears and the council won’t help them and this new bedroom tax has meant their benefits are no longer enough, and they would rather sell sex and have their home warm, their children fed, not end up homeless, then they need to be able to do that as safely as possible. And if the woman wants the money to save going into further debt while studying, or for drugs, or for any other reason, whatever the reason, she deserves the same safety, and not the judgement of people on their plastic moral high ground.

Some people seeking to abolish the sex trade want to criminalise clients in every country based on research of the Swedish model, research that does not stand up. It is a “failed experiment in social engineering” and Sweden has history here. They want this Swedish model, which regrettably I used to support because I did believe it was best for people in the sex trade, but it will cause more rapes and murders, deeper poverty and more homelessness, to operate globally. And even if the research did stack up, any sane person can see you cannot replicate something that relies on government investment for ‘exit routes’ from a wealthy country with a tiny population and a small number of people in the sex trade to the UK, which has an estimated 80,000 people in prostitution. And then use your common sense when you look further to India, for example, a poor country with a huge population and high number of people in the sex trade, where if there was this Swedish model, there will also be starvation and death for women in the sex trade and their children and grandchildren.

I do believe there needs to be in every country serious investment for real alternatives for women seeking to leave the sex trade. Personally, I do not believe these services should be forced, but optional, and non-judgemental and non-religious. But surely even those wanting to criminalise all clients can see these ‘exiting routes’ need to be in place first. Even if countries had the money and were willing to invest, these services and the volume required are not going to pop up overnight, or in a month, or even a year.

I am not the sex trade lobby and I am not pro-prostitution, but I am pro-every-person-in-prostitution, both sex workers and victims of sex trafficking. It is possible to care about both equally and it is possible to realise different laws are needed to protect both groups of people. And as someone who has sold sex, who knows that for her and for most of the women she knows who are out of that life that it is traumatic, even with that knowledge and the repercussions of trauma that I live with daily, as a mother I would still choose to sell sex to keep my home warm, to feed my children, to pay my rent arrears, if those were my circumstances. I am fortunate that right now, they are not, but perhaps because I am able to envisage that and imagine myself in other women’s shoes whether in the UK or India or anywhere else, I respect them for what they do to survive, which is the reality for most people in the sex trade. I am no different from those women just because I don’t sell sex any more, and I and them are no different from any other woman who has never sold sex.

No woman deserves to be raped or the victim of other violence or murder. It is never right to blame the clothes she was wearing, that she was drunk or on drugs, that she was out late at night, or that she was selling sex.

End Violence Against Sex Workers

Coming Back from Soul Destruction – Ruth Jacobs interviewed on Women Move the Soul

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Published on Women Move the Soul – 29 October 2013

We know them. We all know a woman who struggles with drugs and alcohol. Perhaps she’s a woman in your family, a friend or even a co-worker, but we know them. If you have not been a drug addict then you cannot know what they go through. You can’t imagine the pain they feel from moment to moment and the things that they are driven to do because of that addiction…. Ruth Jacobs has been there – in the very recesses of hell – and she came back to us… Read the full article on Women Move the Soul here.

BBC1 Inside Out: The Merseyside Hate Crime Model of Policing Prostitution – Monday 21 Oct, 7.30pm

Inside Out - Merseyside model

The Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution leads the country. In these two BBC1 documentaries for Inside Out, writer Ruth Jacobs investigates why crimes against sex trade workers are going unpunished, clearly showing the urgency for the Merseyside model to be made UK wide to prevent more rapes and save lives, taking more rapists and murderers off the streets. The Association of Chief Police Officers recommended all forces adopt the hate crime model in their Strategy & Supporting Operational Guidance for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation in 2011 but as yet, no other force has taken this action.

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BBC1 Inside Out: Merseyside Model documentary – London version.

BBC1 Inside Out: Merseyside Model documentary – North West version.

As well as airing on BBC1 in the London and North West regions, the London and North West Inside Out documentaries can be watched across the UK on Sky channel 974 and Freesat 950 for London, and Sky 978 and Freesat 955 for the North West. The London edition is also on the BBC1 HD channel on Freeview across England and on Sky, Virgin and Freesat UK wide.

A shorter version on BBC News can be watched worldwide here.

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On BBC Radio Merseyside, Shelly Stoops, the first Independent Sexual Violence Advisor at Armistead Street Project, and Martin Fenerty, the current project manager, discuss the Merseyside hate crime model with Andy Ball (listen from 1:47 minutes).

On BBC London Radio, Ruth discusses the Merseyside model with Jo Good (listen from 1:29 minutes).

For more information on the Merseyside model click here.

Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes discusses decriminalisation & the Merseyside model

Ruth Jacobs

“Since 1975, the International Prostitutes Collective has been campaigning for the abolition of the prostitution laws which criminalize sex workers and our families, and for economic alternatives and higher benefits and wages.

No woman, child or man should be forced by poverty or violence into sex with anyone. We provide information, help and support to individual prostitute women and others who are concerned with sex workers’ human, civil, legal and economic rights.”

More information about the vital work of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) can be read on their website http://prostitutescollective.net.

“In the Booth with Ruth – Niki Adams, English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)” Produced by Matthew Lynch (www.jlfilmandmedia.com)

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Soul Destruction: Unforgivable – recent reviews & only 99p / $1.55 for a limited time

Soul Destruction Unforgivable High Res Border

“Unforgivable, Unputdownable. Great characters you will walk beside from page one. Great story you will not want to end.”

Sheila Quigley author of The Seahills series and The Holy Island trilogy.

5.0 out of 5 stars Draws you in and won’t let you go – Martin Crosbie

The writing is sharp and intelligent but it’s the storytelling that kept me reading. The author knows how to tell a story and knows how to tell it accurately. Soul Destruction deals with uncomfortable topics in a respectful and thought-provoking manner. The only criticism I had was that I wanted to know more. I had so much invested in these characters that I really didn’t want to leave them alone, and to me that’s the mark of a very good book. When I wasn’t reading it I looked forward to getting back to it, and when it was over I was very disappointed.

I’m very glad to hear there may be more coming with the same characters. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Not Belle de Jour – Miss Y. Maxwell “Ms M”

Ruth’s own experience and knowledge of the subject matters shows through, as does her respect and compassion for the characters. As I say, it’s no Belle de Jour. It shows another side of the sex work. Although these women are ‘high class,’ they are only one fix away from ending up on the streets. Although they are sex workers, that is not the focus and very little is shown of their work. It’s focus is on Shelley and her descent into addiction as she struggles to retain a grip on reality. These women have had bad knocks, but they are fighters, especially Shelley and Nicole. The world is one many will never see, but the author shows it and the humanity as well as they hurt and anger of the main characters .

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, heart-breaking and hopeful – Trista Hendren

This is a fascinating read of a world that remains unfamiliar to many women. What I liked the most about this book was how the author wrote her characters with such love – they were likeable women in an industry that is despised by many – addictions and all. I came away with a better understanding of prostitution and a stronger resolve to work towards a better world for ALL women.

5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful read  Kacie

This was a really fascinating insight into the life of an addict and a prostitute. It’s narrated like she might be one of your girlfriends, making the story very relate-able and therefore it hits home a little harder and challenges any previously held judgments or prejudices. A great read!

5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling novel about prostitution and addiction – G. Polley

If you’re looking for a pleasant sort of read, Ruth Jacobs “Unforgivable” is not it. Honest books about the world of prostitution, drugs and addiction show what the life is really about, and it is not in any way a pretty one. Her novel about Shelley and her friends is chilling, lonely, and radically disconnecting. As I know from my own experience of active alcohol addiction, and from the subsequent work that I did with addicts, her novel presents a very clear picture of the world addicts and prostitutes live in.

I found the novel very difficult to read as I followed the lives of Shelley and her friends as their world shrinks around them, for Shelley shrinking to the point that it fits her like shrink wrap. Heroin is a very jealous lover that she won’t break free of until she gets help. Does she? That part of the story is not clear; again, that’s the world we addicts live in until, accepting help, we walk away from it.

I recommend this fine novel without reservation for everyone to read. Keep a box or two of tissues handy, because you’ll need them. Thank you, Ruth Jacobs, for writing and publishing this.

5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgivable is Unforgettable – Michelle

Ruth Jacobs invites you into a world that is not known to most of us, from the first page you are quickly gripped as the main character, Shelley Hansard, finds herself in a hotel room with a motionless body next to her. This thriller is intense, dark, full of mystery and suspense and at times quite funny.

Although a work of fiction, the writer has done a fantastic job of giving a truthful insight into the very real world of prostitution and the life of a call girl.

Graphic in some parts where you get a real sense of the trials and tribulations faced by the main character. A very insightful piece of writing and a must read.

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable can be downloaded for 99p on Kindle from Amazon UK and $1.55 from Amazon US.

Also available in e-book from Caffeine Nights (£1.95), in paperback from Caffeine Nights (£6.99), Amazon UK (£8.99) and Amazon US ($13.47).

The first three chapters can be read and downloaded here.

My most in depth article arguing for the Merseyside model to be made UK wide – The F-Word

protest as part of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers uploaded by Flickr user Steve Rhodes.

Protest as part of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Image by Flickr user Steve Rhodes

Published on The F-Word – 19 August 2013

Most sex workers find it difficult to report rape or violence because of the stigma associated with prostitution. Ruth Jacobs argues for a model that treats crimes against sex workers as hate crimes, a model that has been successful in increasing reporting of crimes and convictions in Merseyside. Read the full article on The F-Word here.