Recent events have reignited the debate around prostitution laws in the UK. Sex workers and human rights groups are calling for policy change, as well as an end to stigmatisation – an issue that particularly harms sex workers who use drugs.
In July 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) published its interim report on prostitution, which advocates the decriminalisation of sex workers soliciting clients and sharing premises. Despite the report being lauded by sex worker rights groups, the validity of its conclusions became shrouded in uncertainty when the HASC Chairman, Keith Vaz, was alleged to have had clandestine involvement with sex workers, including offering to pay for cocaine for them.
Gone are the days of furtively Googling “how long does MDMA take to wear off” in the university library whist angling your computer so that no one else can see the screen. And the familiar, daunting sensation of scrolling through a forum discussion where everyone seems to know far more about drugs than you do, and is sharing stories about the highs and comedowns of a mystery character called “SWIM” (a popular acronym, commonly used with a wink in online forums to chronicle the wide-ranging drug-related experiences of “Someone Who Isn’t Me”).
This week Greek officials agreed to deport a Syrian refugee back to Turkey. Without guarantees that his rights will be protected this risks contravening the EU’s established rules on asylum and human rights.
Greece is obligated to do so under the EU-Turkey deal agreed on 20 March 2016 where Turkey agreed to take back migrants and police its borders in exchange for $6bn and improved visa conditions for Turks in Europe.
The deal was intended to curb the flow of migrants arriving from Turkey to Greece and Italy. The effect has been short-lived. The recent attempted coup in Turkey led to the withdrawal of Turkish police and liaison officers from the Greek islands and saw a new rise in arrivals.
New procedures increase safety.