Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2010


Bradford murders and prostitution

THE MURDER of three women in Bradford once again draws attention to the plight of women who take up prostitution. Money for rent, to pay off debts, sometimes a better income than many jobs pay and often addiction to drugs and alcohol are some of the reasons that women (and men) turn to prostitution.

Jane James

A man has been charged with the murders of Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth (whose body has still not been found). All three worked in Bradford's red light district and all three were trying to break drug or alcohol addictions which led them to sell their bodies for another fix.

62% of women involved in street prostitution say that they are doing so to fund an illegal drug habit; 81% of women in street prostitution were under 18 when they first became involved in it.

These tragic events bring back memories of the Ipswich murders in 2006 when five young women were murdered. Like the Bradford women they were also addicted to drugs. The Ipswich events marked a change in the way prostitutes were widely viewed - as women (mothers, daughters and sisters) and not just as prostitutes. It triggered much discussion on how to reduce the dangers associated with prostitution and how they could get out of prostitution.

It would only be possible to move towards eradicating prostitution and violence against women in a socialist society free from poverty, where the inequalities of power and wealth - which breed violence and economic and sexual exploitation and abuse - are replaced by economic and personal relationships based on equality and cooperation. But in the meantime, government policy is worsening the risks that prostitutes face.

Since the Ipswich murders, the amended Police and Crime Act 2009 has made some changes to the law regarding prostitution. It is now a criminal offence to "pay for sexual services of a prostitute subject to force", ie those women who are controlled by or forced to have sex by another person. However this partial criminalisation of men who buy sex can have the consequence of pushing prostitution further underground to avoid arrest, making it more dangerous for women.

Where prostitution is illegal, such as in Sweden, there can be a tendency for prostitutes to go underground. On the other hand legalisation of prostitution would legitimise prostitution, making it easier for big business to further expand the sex industry.

The Act still criminalises those found "loitering or soliciting in order to gain money for sex". Those convicted can be fined as previously but an alternative now open to the courts is for women to attend meetings where they can be helped to find a route out of prostitution through rehabilitation.

However, insisting that someone attends three meetings is unlikely to work. Voluntary engagement is more beneficial but there is unlikely to be enough resources. Criminalising these women only makes matters worse as they struggle to pay fines or end up in prison.

The Act also gives the police powers to close down brothels which some believe are a safer environment than working on the streets. However, violence against prostitutes takes place in all settings.

Prostitutes in Bradford were moved from a built-up area to a more isolated run-down part of the city which made it easier for them to be attacked. However, while not wanting any measures that worsen the plight of prostitutes, socialists would sympathise with local residents who did not want prostitutes working in their streets.

Instead of being criminalised they should have access to drug rehabilitation, decent housing, education and jobs that pay a living wage. If the draconian cuts promised by the new government are not defeated by mass movements then we will inevitably see more women and men taking the road to prostitution instead of people being offered routes out of prostitution.

We live in a society where we are exploited by the strong and powerful. But women have been and continue to be exploited as an 'inferior' sex and are often subject to violence from their husbands, partners and boyfriends. Over two women a week are killed by current or ex-partners while one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Rape within marriage only became illegal 22 years ago in Britain and currently rape convictions are still very low. Many men who use prostitutes do so primarily to assert control over women.

We need a society without exploitation - a socialist society where no-one would be forced to sell their body by pimps or traffickers or by the need to survive.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 9 June 2010:

Reject these brutal cuts

National Shop Stewards Network

Come to the NSSN conference unite the fightback!

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Why public sector cuts are not inevitable

Socialist Party news and analysis

Marches show opposition to Israeli state terror

Determined BA cabin crew ready to reballot

EDL thugs sent packing from Cardiff

EDL protest stopped in Swansea

Fast news

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

CWU ballots BT workers for strike over pay

Unite conference - union at the crossroads

Wales TUC - rank and file delegates support socialist fightback

Socialist Party youth and students

Future of cuts a nightmare for youth

College campaign success

Socialist Students national meeting: Preparing for a student fightback

Youth Fight for Jobs open steering committee

Lobby Iain Duncan Smith at his surgery

Socialist Party youth meeting: ready to build a fightback

Socialist Party feature

Soccer World Cup 2010: South Africa, the ugly backdrop to the beautiful game

Environment and socialism

Oil spill shows hazards of the profit system

Bhopal - little justice 25 years on

News and comment

Will the Lib Dems survive coalition?

Bradford murders and prostitution


Home   |   The Socialist 9 June 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleLessons of Russia 1917 for women's struggle today


triangleBradford protests against kids' service cuts

triangleBradford Socialist Party: A strategy to defeat the cuts

triangleBradford protest against children's service cuts

triangleBradford campaign to save children's services launched


triangleDerby public meeting: Women's Lives Matter

triangleContinuing the fighting tradition of working class women

triangleInternational Women's Day


triangle1967 Abortion Act reflected social changes

Violence against women:

triangleSpain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



Gripping spy thriller exposes hypocrisy of Falklands/Malvinas war


The Socialist

International Women's Day


Sexual harassment

Fighting sexual harassment in entertainment



The Socialist inbox



The Socialist inbox: International Women's Day



Socialist anti-war exhibition opens in Kingston



The Socialist inbox



What's behind the surge in eating disorders?



The Socialist inbox



In Windsor none of us want to see homeless people on the street



I'm now a 'manager' and I can barely manage!



The Socialist inbox



Darkest Hour: Not the usual flattery of brutal Tory Churchill



Bernie's book shows need for workers' party



GCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018