I've been sent this by the English Collective of Prostitues, an organisation based in London who represent sex workers. You can find their website here: http://prostitutescollective.net/.
ACTION ALERT . . .
Stop the prosecution of a woman falsely accused of prostitution who faces prison for breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Order.
Please write urgently to protest this injustice to the addresses below. This prosecution is not in the public interest and should be dropped (model letter below).
To: Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions firstname.lastname@example.org
CPS, Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS
Cc: CPS North East Case Progression Team email@example.comThe Cooperage 8 Gainsford Street, Bermondsey, SE1 2NE (DX161230 Bermondsey 4).
Rushanara Ali MP firstname.lastname@example.org
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA020 7219 7200
347 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9RA
And: English Collective of Prostitutes email@example.com 0207482 2496
On Friday 12 July, 10am at Stratford Magistrates Court, Ms CH faces charges of breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) which bans her from loitering throughout the whole borough of Tower Hamlets for 26 years. This offence carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Ms CH is not guilty of loitering. She lives in Tower Hamlets -- her home is in the red-light area!
What is the evidence needed to prove loitering? “Standing on a street corner looking in the direction of several men” has been enough in some cases. So it isn’t what you do, it is who you are that seems to be the greatest proof of street prostitution. How is a woman who has worked in the past ever able to defend herself and be believed when the case relies on hearsay evidence from the police alone and is heard before magistrates who rubber stamp what the police say.
Ms CH was given the ASBO about four years ago when she was ill and not in a position to challenge it.
There are other factors in this case that should be taken into account:
Ms Hughes is the devoted mother of a three-year-old boy.
Ms Hughes is also a victim of rape and other violence. She has been attacked countless times while working but only reported one attack to the police — she felt compelled to do so because her injuries were so severe and she feared that the man would attack other women.
In the name of women’s safety, ASBOs must be abolished. They are used to unfairly target sex workers for arrest and imprisonment and shunt women around, often into more isolated areas, where they are more at risk of violence.
Protest outside Stratford Magistrates Court 9.30 – 10.30, Friday 12 July and then attend court to support Ms CH.
I write [add something about your circumstances and why you are concerned/protesting] to ask that the prosecution of Ms CH for breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) be dropped. The ASBO is draconian. It bans her from loitering throughout the whole borough of Tower Hamlets for 26 years. Breaching an ASBO carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison
Ms CH lives in Tower Hamlets -- her home is in the red-light area. Every time she leaves her house she risks being arrested for loitering regardless of what she is doing. On this occasion she was waiting for a taxi. ASBOs are deeply unfair. They are given out on the basis of hearsay evidence from the police. No-one needs to come to court to give evidence that a nuisance was caused to them. Magistrates nearly always rubber stamp the police evidence.
A conviction for breaching an ASBO could wreck Ms CH’s life.
Pursuing ASBOs against sex workers undermines safety, shunts women around often into more isolated areas where they are more at risk of violence. The Metropolitan Police have acknowledged that it deters women from reporting violence. At a time when more women are going into prostitution to feed themselves and their families, why isn’t help being provided instead of criminalisation and imprisonment.
There is no public interest in pursuing this case and we urge you to drop the prosecution.