WEB RESOURCES for SAFER ESCORTING
I was delighted the other day to discover I have been flattered over this site by Amy, a young and very articulate Scarborough escort and an ally of IUSW activist Catherine Stephens.
So much so that An Anthology of English Pros has been added to
Amy’s blogroll on her Adore Amy blog (which I see has already made the papers). As she hopes to add other sites of use to the world of escorting, I thought I’d do a bit of a Kate Russell from the BBC’s Click, and tell you a few of the sites that I don’t think the BBC bosses would be too pleased if Kate publicised (so maybe she stashes them away in her private favourites?)
The net is overflowing with sites for sex workers to publicise their services, some of them charging a fee, many others free. This post, however, concentrates instead on other links that may be useful – good links for health and safety, law, tax, and general advice and support, none of which charge people a penny, and some of which are funded via the NHS or, in the case of UKNSWP, the National Lottery.
Health and Safety
One of the more important skills for escorts is personal risk management, to reduce the risk of illness or injury, no matter at what level they work.
On the web there are, for example, advice on safer ways than others to get into clients’ cars for street workers, and proper procedures for checking clients (or themselves) for sexually transmitted diseases, if one knows where to find them. There is help over optimally designed clothing to wear for safety, jewellery advice, free personal alarms etc, all available to those who know where to look.
Many of the best sites are outside the UK , but here the UK Network of Sex Work Projects (UKNSWP) is catching up fast and a good first port of call would be their excellent guide Keeping Safe. It scores heavily on minimising risk of violence, whether the sex worker works the streets, for an agency, or as an independent escort, and is packed with useful tips which could save injury or worse and must be worth the few minutes it takes them to read through, if only for greater peace of mind.
Also of note is Protect Yourself – a Safety Handbook for Sex Workers produced by Ruth Morgan-Thomas’s excellent Scot-Pep in Edinburgh, recently tragically clobbered by funding cuts by the local NHS, but Ruth’s vowed to fight on.
Various sites have warning boards, in an attempt to enable sex workers to warn each other of dodgy clients. Sadly, there are so many of these sites that if they were to check every one, they would do little else, and the information would be out of date by the time they finished. SAAFE (Support And Advice For Escorts – of which more later) has made a noble attempt to bring this together. If sex workers have a local UKNSWP affiliate, it is worth their while finding out if they run a warnings scheme. They might email UKNSWP direct to see.
Possibly of greatest value, though, would be for local escorts to start their own warnings list with any co-operative escorts in their locality they can find, creating something like an unlisted Yahoo group for their patch.
And now, from the local to Australia…
On the health side of things, I have yet to find a better site than SQWISI, in Queensland. This pdf details the procedure for visually checking a client for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and definitely not for the squeamish (or to be viewed over breakfast) is this collection of photos of what STIs look like. Finding no physical evidence of STIs is no guarantee clients (or sex workers) haven’t got one, but does reduce the risk a lot – more detailed photos and advice are available on the SQWISI safe sex page here.
These are just a few of the excellent resources available on the site, a few of which (contact organisations, laws etc) are only applicable in Queensland or Australia but most of which are relevant and useful anywhere, covering issues like working whilst pregnant, sexual assault, preventing burnout, etc. Of use to all sex workers should be this fact sheet on dealing with difficult clients.
Sadly the Queensland organisation that generated these disappeared some years ago as a result of an industrial dispute. However, Elena Jeffreys of Scarlet Alliance informs me that the site should be around awhile longer.
This excellent site from the UK NHS gives details of where to easily find one’s nearest GUM clinic in the UK (nothing to do with dentistry, it stands for Genito-Urinary Medicine), and also features special discount offers on a range of condoms, including one make that supports HIV treatment in Africa.
To call UK law in this area an ass would be an insult to global bottoms, but this blog is a signposting blog rather than an opinion piece (tie me down!), so…
The best site for lay people (pardon the expression) for an overall view of the relevant mess comprising what is still known as the law in this respect in England and Wales is SW5’s sex law pages. Though SW5 caters for male sex workers, its legal pages are the best for lay people of either sex, and often have links to the relevant statutes.
The law does keep changing in this area whenever the Home Office decides the current laws aren’t resulting in the deaths of enough sex workers, so it is important to keep up to date on it frequently.
Also worth a mention for the lay person is the UK sex laws page of the Sexual Freedom Coalition website.
A very detailed site containing statutes, consultations, reviews, responses and just about anything you could wish for from all sides of the argument is the UK sex work area of Michael Goodyear’s site. This also has some key cases on brothel law, important on how brothels are defined.
Scottish and Northern Irish law is different and, in the case of Scotland, in some ways even worse. The Scottish equivalent of controlling (a prostitute) for gain, for example, does not require gain, and “control” is defined as “anything that aids or abets the prostitution,” so a man declining an offer from a street sex worker in Glasgow, but advising her that she might do better in the next street because there’s more chaps in it would be committing the offence.
Alas, of good sites on Scottish or Northern Irish law, I do not know, though you may find out on the forum dedicated to UK sex law here.
Once upon a time, there was a very good site called tax4escorts. Sadly, this site seems to have had problems retaining hosting and disappeared, but the domain name was subsequently bought up by SW5 (see above), which hasn’t (I believe) done anything with it yet. Good news, then, that a new site entitled taxrelief4escorts has made a timely appearance, run by the irrepressible Jocelyn in Devon, of whom one can discover more on his often humorous blog, tax4saintsandsinners.
Because of the way they’ve been treated, largely by the law over the centuries, sex workers have always found it difficult to organise. No doubt histories can and have been written on this, but as in other walks of life, things are changing fast with the internet.
Two main bodies attempt to put across the sex workers’ case in England and Wales – the IUSW and the ECP.
The International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) “campaigns for the human, civil and labour rights of those who work in the sex industry.” It believes all workers including sex workers have the right to:
full protection of all existing laws, regardless of the context and without discrimination. These include all laws relating to harassment, violence, threats, intimidation, health and safety and theft.
access the full range of employment, contract and property laws.
participate in and leave the sex industry without stigma
full and voluntary access to non-discriminatory health checks and medical advice
Besides prostitutes, the term “sex worker” is interpreted as covering all involved in the sex industry, from lap dancers to porn film stars and crews to people working in adult shops.
The IUSW tends to consist not only of sex workers themselves, but others who support its aims. Key players in the IUSW in London also tend to belong to the London adult branch of the GMBATU trade union.
The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) is part of the International Prostitutes Collective and campaigns vigorously both in parliament and out. Tends to paint a picture of, and mostly concerned with, prostitution caused through deprivation, which is a popular notion amongst that small remnant of the Parliamentary Labour Party still considered left of fascist.
Sohoboyz and SW5
These are two London-based organisations concerned with male and transexual sex workers. Sohoboyz, with premises in Kensington and Westminster, does a lot of skills training, including English as a second language, website design and others, and also (like most UKNSWP affiliates) does drop-in and outreach work, HIV testing etc.
SW5 is (or was?) sort of great. But now, its site was last updated in March and it seems to have lost virtually all its funding and been taken over largely by the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), and, if it exists at all, apparently has no premises. Whatever your sex, scouting around the site, however, may forewarn you of many of the types of scams to avoid if you take up sex work.
SAAFE (Support And Advice For Escorts)
This is an excellent site if you can stand the dreadful pink, for which Brandy and Sarah-Jane, who started the site in 2003 (only Brandy remains), seem to have fallen.
Written by escorts for escorts, SAAFE basically consists of 28 short articles on different aspects of the job, from tax and scam agencies to hiring a driver and dealing with timewasters, along with its escort-friendly forum upon which sex workers tell their woes, and its apparently now defunct centralised warnings board.
SWAG (Sex Workers Assistance Guide)
I think this site’s Canadian, maybe American, but run by volunteers. Strengths include glossary of terms, advice on transitioning etc. Well worth a browse.
Well, that’s my Kate Russell bit done for now. Know of any other useful sites, please feel free to add to comments.
© Stephen Paterson and An Anthology of English Pros, 2008-2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephen Paterson and An Anthology of English Pros with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.