Edinburgh saunas consultation

Edinburgh City Council is consulting on sauna licensing. I know that sounds yawn-inducing but the survey is DEAD SHORT (woo). I’ve produced my answers below as guidance. I wrote them very quickly. The questions I’ve reproduced are paraphrases, duh. GO FILL IT OUT. Nothing ever stops, I know. THERE WILL BE CONSULTATIONS ON SEX WORK POLICY TO FILL OUT FOREVER & EVER UNTIL WE ARE ALL DUST, soz.

What do you think about our stupid proposals?

Having worked in a sauna myself up until May this year, I can tell you the impact of removing the licensing system would be seriously harmful. Don’t get me wrong; licensing is CRAP – it puts all the power in the hands of the few people who have enough money etc to apply for licenses. But it is so much better than the alternative that you’re suggesting. When the saunas were raided, the police treated the women appallingly – tipping off the press for photos, taking all the women’s money & phones, keeping women trapped for up to seven hours (CHILDCARE?!). Without licenses you know very well that the police would raid & raid, all those horrible & abusive police practises would happen all the time, & eventually all the saunas would close & women would go to working flats. And they’d be working in FEAR of the police – fear of the police using condoms as evidence, fear of the police raiding them & traumatising them & taking their money. That makes us less able to report crimes against us; how can we report crimes to the people who are looking to raid us? It’s not safe to do that – we’ll get raided. Dangerous people would know that working women in Edinburgh were less able to report crimes against us, and therefore these crimes would become more common as violent people would know they could act with impunity.
Impact on public health? (Honestly this question gets my back up. I know public health is a legit thing but I just can never read it as not “do you think normal people might catch diseases too? We might care if so”)
Bad. When you put sex workers & the state in oppositional roles you drive women away from health services as well as taking away their ability to report crimes. Plus condoms as evidence, because in the real world obviously the police will use condoms as evidence BECAUSE THEY OBVIOUSLY ARE EVIDENCE and when you criminalise sex work WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT THE POLICE TO DO.
Any other suggestions?
Grow a backbone & call for the decriminalisation of sex work, so that (for instance) sex workers could work safely together indoor as friends without a manager and without the fear of police raids. I note that the very latest WHO guidance on effective HIV programming for sex workers calls for decriminalisation and SEX WORKER-LED service provision as a *miniumum Global standard*, i.e the WHO is addressing the Global South but it should literally be a national embarassment that Scotland doesn’t meet the MINUMUM GLOBAL STANDARD. Full decrim now please, in line with what SEX WORKERS are saying is best for our rights + health.

2 thoughts on “Edinburgh saunas consultation

  1. Pingback: Edinburgh saunas consultation | Sexworker Blogs

  2. Fully endorse the efforts to keep Edinburgh with licensing – no surprise that many girls from Glasgow commute to work in safer and better conditions, with better rates (apparently). As a regular user of late coach services and late arriving trains from the South, my hours of travelling in Edinburgh and Glasgow have lead to interesting conversations on my travels.

    Living in an area as it changed from being offices in old town houses, to desirable flats, I noted the old habits (using former office car parks at night gave us visitors using cars being startled to find someone puttng out rubbish in the bins late in the evening) and the lag in changing them. We also had at least 2 brothels, where many of the local residents had banter with the girls working there, as we passed on the street. In many ways having a brothel on your street is actually a good way to ensure a low level of local crime, since there is nearly always someone ‘at home’ as the local neighbourhood watch. In much the same way the late night bus and coach services in Edinburgh appear to have a quiet and efficient informal policing deliverd by or for some of the users.

    Sadly I suspect that the disappearance of the traditional (male) office population from the type of businesses we had in this area of Glasgow meant a loss of the higher value clients, fitting in their use of the sex services around their working day, and the quality of management also seemed to slip, not helped by the Council’s official position and eventually the last operation we know of locally (A***) closed down, and was duly converted in to luxury flats (if only the new owners knew).

    So in Glasgow we have a regime which drives the activity underground, to the detriment of safety, working conditions, and even rates of pay. It is a well recognised detail that where any activity is creating a problem the very last thing you do is bury it with a ban, the solutions are in monitoring and management. Far better to know what is happening than to fear the unknown.

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