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Open letter: call for signatures

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Nordic Model Now!, collecting signatures, open letter, Brighton University, Freshers' Week, prostitution, grooming, buying sex, Was this grooming young women and suggesting buying sex an acceptable option for young men?

Nordic Model Now! are collecting signature for an open letter to be sent to Brighton University next week in response to the presence of a stall run by the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) at the university’s recent Freshers’ Week.

Apparently this stall “was aimed at students who are already involved in ‘sex work’ with the aim of making sure they knew where to find support”.

But it’s hard to see any purpose other than promoting, glamorising and normalising the renting of (mostly) women’s and girls’ bodies to men.

As such the stall would inevitably serve to groom both young women and young men to accept and participate in prostitution, an oppressive and inhumane institution that is both a cause and consequence of the gross inequality between the sexes.

Research shows that the life of women involved in prostitution is at best unstable, at worst extremely dangerous.

So how is it ethical is it for anyone, let alone anyone working in higher education, to suggest, even obliquely, that prostitution is a reasonable option for a young woman to whom they have a duty of care?

Or that buying sex is an acceptable option for a young man?

Nordic Model Now! are calling for individuals and groups and organisations to sign this letter asking that such a stall does not in future appear at the University’s Freshers’ Week.

Please add your signature.

The deadline for signing is 23 October.

Nordic Model Now! will send the letter on 24 October 2018 and then publish it, along with the signatures, on their website.

The letter is to be addressed to Debra Humphris, Vice Chancellor, Brighton University; Tomi Ibukun, President, Brighton University Student Union; and Amy Jaiteh, VP Welfare and Campaigns, Brighton University Student Union, and runs:

Dear Ms Humphris, Mr Ibukun and Ms Jaiteh,

We write to express our concern that a stall by the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) was made available to your students during Freshers’ Week.

Most of the freshers are young, many still teenagers; many are vulnerable and worried about money. All of these factors can lead young people – especially girls and young women – to consider prostitution as a viable option.

However, research shows that the life of women involved in prostitution is at best unstable, at worst extremely dangerous. Long-term physical, emotional, and psychological consequences are inevitable. This is how one young woman described her recent experience in prostitution:

“People think prostitution is about having consensual sex for money. It’s not. Those men don’t want to pay for that. They paid me and then used me however they wanted. I was beaten with objects until I bled; spat at; anally raped; gang raped; passed around at sex parties like a toy, men slipping off their condoms; I was shouted at, threatened, choked, told to look like I enjoyed it or he’d take the money back. I was scared every single second.”

How is it ethical to suggest, even obliquely, that this is a reasonable option for a young woman to whom you have a duty of care? Or the corollary – that buying sex – is an acceptable option for a young man?

We understand that the institution’s response was that the stall “was aimed at students who are already involved in ‘sex work’ with the aim of making sure they knew where to find support”. This does not really wash because we know from speaking to women currently and previously involved in prostitution that they would never approach such a public stall, for fear of being outed to their peers, which could put them in real danger of assault by men. SWOP must be well aware of this dynamic. A genuine effort to reach students currently engaged with prostitution could more appropriately be made discreetly through the student welfare service.

What then was the real purpose of the stall?

It’s hard to see any purpose other than promoting, glamorising and normalising the renting of (mostly) women’s and girls’ bodies to men. As such the stall would inevitably serve to groom both young women and young men to accept and participate in this most oppressive and inhumane institution that is both a cause and consequence of the gross inequality between the sexes.

One of the many reasons we campaign for the Nordic Model, is that it improves boys’ and young men’s attitude to women and girls, and encourages them to reject the sex industry and the objectification of women on which it is predicated.

The university has a legal obligation under the Public Sector Equality Duty to consider the impact of its measures on the need to eliminate sexist discrimination and harassment, to advance women’s equality of opportunity, and to foster good relations between male and female students and staff. How is allowing a stall that implicitly (if not explicitly) condones and trivialises an institution that feeds male entitlement and entrenches the second-class status of women compatible with that?

We are acutely aware of the devastating poverty that is gripping large sections of the community because of the Government’s austerity policies, and the impact of the student fees. However, there are many other more positive ways to help young people negotiate and survive these problems, and we would suggest that this is where you should be aiming your focus.

We urge you to take your responsibilities to young people and to equality between the sexes more seriously in future and to never allow such a thing to happen again.

Signed by

Nordic Model Now!

To add your signature click here.

The deadline for signing is 23 October.

Please share this widely.

Thank you.

  1. Brigitte Lechner says:

    Thank you for organising this letter. A good way to scotch another round of naturalising the abuse of women.

  2. Dee Sheehan says:

    Why was a stall aimed at people already engaged… at freshers week if not to recruit? Entirley inappropriate.
    Women are not commodities to buy and sell they come to university to study.

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