D uring the day the Holbeck industrial zone looks pretty innocuous. Perched on the southern edge of Leeds city centre, it backs on to residential streets peppered with betting shops, newsagents and takeaways. Yet at night this industrial zone becomes something very different. Prostitution is not illegal in the UK but related activities, such as soliciting in a public place, pimping and kerb crawling, are unlawful. Five years on, as Leeds city council faces a firestorm of opposition and an inquiry is opened into the future of the zone, I went back to Leeds to see how the managed zone has affected the lives of those who live and work around Holbeck. For the women who work in the zone at night, the biggest change is that they no longer face the prospect of arrest.
'I worry they are trafficked': is the UK's first 'legal' red light zone working?
English Collective of Prostitutes | Bishopsgate Institute
The complex, difficult lives and subsequent health issues of street-based female sex workers are well documented. This paper explores the health needs of a group of sex workers in one geographical locality in the north-west of England. Interviews were conducted with a number of women currently engaged in sex work, with the aim of identifying factors maintaining them in this work and examining their experience of health and health-related services. A thematic analysis revealed considerable life circumstance complexity, with violence, drugs, alcohol and housing problems being prevalent factors. The combination of such factors compounds the likelihood of the women's social exclusion. Other themes related to the casual perception the women had of their own health needs, their generally poor experience of services and the demonstrable impact of one specific service in supporting a group so reluctant to engage.
We create routes out for women by working with others and challenging the stigma that surrounds sexual exploitation. We want to see women not defined by their past but energised by their future. We work with women facing exploitation on the streets and more broadly to end sexual exploitation. You can read why we do what we do in our manifesto here. You can see what you can do to help here.
The wide-ranging debate about the harms of prostitution suggests that it generally involves women selling sex to men and that those involved frequently experience violence, coercion and control. Nearly 95 per cent of those involved in prostitution report wanting to leave but feel they have no other option for survival. Among those who do leave, trauma rates are very high. Using these shocking findings as a starting point, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Helen Easton, has been working on a study to investigate exiting prostitution in the UK. For women who do want to leave prostitution, the process of exit is rarely easy and there is little academic research or specialist support in this area.