Friday, November 21, 2008 

Vegetable crime.

Seeing as the Grauniad's pages have been more or less given over to Julie Bindel to pursue her crusade against phallocentric crime, it's a relief to read such a coruscating letter attacking the government's plans for prostitution:

I urge the home secretary immediately to make it an offence to buy leeks produced with the help of somebody who is "controlled for another person's gain", to stop exploitation of eastern Europeans on British farms (Police raid farms in human trafficking inquiry, November 19). A plea of ignorance should be no defence for any shopper facing prosecution for buying vegetables produced by workers in Lincolnshire fields who have been trafficked or are being exploited. This would bring this area of anti-human-trafficking legislation into line with that on prostitution. Consumers of all products or services should be made policemen against these vile practices. The government should also urgently consider legislation against eating chocolate produced by child labour in west Africa.
Andrea Woelke
Alternative Family Law, London

For a more serious dissection, Unity as usual has done the necessary research and ripped all involved a new asshole. Something that those convicted of rape after paying for sex with a trafficked prostitute have to look forward to....

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Monday, September 22, 2008 

Dawn of the Dead comes to Manchester.

According to Nick Clegg in his conference speech last week, we have a zombie government. That probably isn't entirely accurate; more appropriate is that we have a zombie Labour party. We aren't here talking about the sort of zombies depicted in certain films that acquire super-human strength despite being dead, being able to rip apart the living with their bare hands to feast on the gooey treats within, but rather the sort of undead creature that is to all intents and purposes dead but refuses to give up the ghost, like Norman Tebbit or the Queen Mother in her final years. To stretch the analogy even further and refer to undoubtedly the greatest zombie film of all time, Romero's Dawn of the Dead, the conference attendees are even reflecting the behaviour of their fictional cousins by taking over a fortified building, somewhere that reminds them of what they used to do. The difference is that this time there's going to be no Roger, Peter, Fran and Stephen to evict the zombies before themselves being forced to leave by looters on motorbikes.

There is little doubt that the stench of death pervades the Manchester Central conference centre. This is a party, truly, desperately going through the motions, pretending to the outside world that everything is going swimmingly, that the economic crisis has given them an opportunity they perhaps didn't have a week ago, that it can still be turned around, and that in the words of David Miliband, the party should "prove the fatalists wrong". It's probably not worth going by remarks which can be misconstrued by those overhearing them, but Miliband's apparent suggestion to an aide that he had toned down his speech because he wanted to avoid a "Heseltine moment" speaks volumes. Ostensibly, the entire event is building up to Gordon Brown's speech tomorrow afternoon, which supposedly is meant to help determine how much longer he might have in office. The reality is that the conference has became so stage managed that reading anything into the immediate reaction is almost as pointless as the entire sojourn itself. Long ago was anything that might really trouble the leadership stripped out; now delegates just vote for policies that will go before the party's national executive committee, where they'll be sharply rejected.

All that's left therefore is for ministers to announce the odd new policy, if they can be called that, in otherwise soporific speeches which nonetheless bloggers and commentators rate because they simply have to write something. Accordingly, David Clark asks whether Miliband is "the English Obama", hopefully rhetorically. Likewise, Lance Price, an ex-spin doctor, asks whether James Purnell is "Labour's Theo Walcott". No reason here to not respond bluntly; no, he's a right-wing Blairite that chose the wrong party to join, and if he's another leadership candidate, then Labour is not just undead, it really has passed on. Jacqui Smith additionally emerged yesterday and revealed the plans for "reform" on prostitution. While these are not quite as bad as they might have been, Labour still intends to try to make kerb-crawling illegal, enhance powers to both police and local councils to close down brothels if prostitutes are being run by a pimp or are trafficked, which in other words will most likely mean anyone who fancies ridding their neighbourhood of the moral scourge will more easily succeed, whilst men who pay for sex with women "who are exploited", i.e. controlled for another person's gain, which again means either run by a pimp or trafficked, will be able to be prosecuted. This should at least lead to some interesting conversations in brothels up and down the land, where the punter questions the worker before handing over the money and dropping his/her trousers about their working conditions. If anything proves that New Labour is still just as illiberal, idiotic and distant from the realities of the real world as it's always been, then this must be it.

The award for the most chutzpah though must go to both Alastair Darling and Brown himself for their various utterances over the weekend and today. Only now that the proverbial horse has firmly bolted do they dare to mention the inequity of the City bonus culture or suggest firmer regulation of the City, but even now such a simple little word as "greed", one even used by John McCain in the United States, is too obscene to pass their lips. Simon Hoggart has already referred to Brown's vision of the reform needed to correct his own reforms which got us into this mess as the Theseus defence: thanks to his magic thread, we'll all be OK, which is reassuring. Even these slight sops to the left though are in keeping with the pretence being kept up by the party of doing something whilst actually doing nothing, as we all know that they don't mean a word of it, nor is there much in the way of legislating which can be done to stop CEOs and board members from awarding themselves such pay deals. Instead we must be thankful that the government stepped in last week and allowed Lloyds TSB to take over HBOS and create an behemoth of a bank, a merger that would have otherwise have been rejected by the competition commission as likely to become a monopoly. Doubtless we will be just as thankful in a few years' time when the bonuses are again being ramped up whilst the difference and diversity on the high street will be even further restricted and diluted.

Does it really seem five years ago that Brown made his barnstorming, defining speech whilst chancellor about being "best when we are Labour", which made some of us hope, probably beyond any reason, that a Brown premiership would be different, bolder, better than Blair's? There won't of course be any repetition of that tomorrow, nor should there be. He needs to get the balance right between introspection, admitting he was wrong over the 10p rate, that he has made other mistakes over the past year and that he needs to improve, and setting out something approaching a vision of how he intends to lead both the party and the country from now on. He could do worse than go along the lines of suggesting that the economic crisis is a paradigm shift or an epoch making moment, even if it isn't, suggesting that the time when the party leadership would ask how high when the CBI said jump is over, and build from there. Moreover, he ought to confront the "elephant in the room": the challenge to himself. Directly ask the party what they will replace him with, and just how much difference there really is between what he is offering, both to the party and the country, with the so-called contenders. It won't stop them from overthrowing him if it's what they've already decided upon, but it might strike a chord with some in the nation itself. If you're going to go down, you might as well do it with both some glory and some dignity, and when neither of those qualities have been present in Manchester at all, that really might make some sit up and take notice.

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Friday, September 05, 2008 

Nobody screws more prostitutes than the government.

It is however still undoubtedly New Labour that holds the undisputed record for its gross and continuing addiction to unnecessary and illogical illiberalism.

So it continues to be on the intractable problem of prostitution. It wasn't so long back that the party was considering the idea of "red light zones", where prostitution would be tolerated and potentially supervised to make it less likely that sex workers would be abused, and the setting-up of "mini-brothels", where 2 or 3 women could work together and protect each other, all ideas which have now been most certainly dropped. The latter was the work of Fiona MacTaggart, who while distinctly opposed to prostitution and who wanted tougher penalties for kerb-crawlers accepted that there was no possible way the government could stamp it out, and also accepted that making the buying of sex illegal would achieve nothing in the long run except making those dependent on selling their bodies even more vulnerable and desperate. She may since have changed her views, and did previously suggest an amendment which would make buying sex illegal.

MacTaggart has since the left the government, and policy on prostitution has increasingly come under the influence of the Harriet Harman, who has made quite clear that she is much inclined towards just the policy which MacTaggart opposed. Like with all the politicians and campaigners down the ages, whether complaining about video nasties, declining moral standards or otherwise, few want to be seen as stopping adults from choosing their pursuits as they see fit. Instead, there has to either be someone or something that is being affected by the pursuit the adult chooses which can instead be used as the justification to stop it in its entirety. With video nasties it was that children were watching them and being either disturbed or corrupted by their contents. With drugs it's that they're either getting more powerful, that the side effects are increasing or that the working classes and less educated can't handle them. With prostitution they now seem to have finally found a reason why the buying of sex should be made illegal: trafficking and the resulting sex slavery.

Harman is using this exact argument and has even had an opinion poll commissioned to help back her up. It unsurprisingly found that more than half of both men and women were in favour of making buying sex illegal if it would help reduce people-trafficking. It does also though, contradictingly, show that both men and women still think that buying sex should be made completely legal, something that Harman strangely didn't emphasise. The obvious problem with this is that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that making the purchasing of sex illegal would help to decrease it; while there is some evidence which points towards the complete legalisation of prostitution increasing sex trafficking in countries where that has happened, the held-up example of Sweden offers no real definitive evidence that it has helped stem the trade. The most it suggests is that prostitution in Stockholm fell after buying sex was made illegal, which proves little as it may well just have been that prostitution had increased outside of the capital and pushed it further underground, with those practising less easy to come across.

Similarly, we also don't know just how big a problem sex trafficking actually is. While politicians have adopted the stance of making it illegal to stem this "modern-day evil of slavery", the first police operation designed to combat it, called Operation Pentameter, rescued a compartively tiny number of 88 individuals. Its follow-up, Pentameter 2, rescued a further 167. The police themselves claim that they think up to 18,000 trafficking victims might be being forced to work as prostitutes. If so, that shows that the attempts to combat it have been a miserable failure. If in fact those estimates are wildly excessive, which seems a much more reasonable assumption, then it suggests that the problem is being wildly overstated, and that it's being used a tool by those ideologically opposed to prostitution to outlaw something which they detest for moral reasons.

Harman's poll was further commissioned to come alongside a report by the Eaves charity, which runs the Poppy project. A follow up to their 2004 Sex and the City report, Big Brothel (PDF) is meant to present a realistic picture of the scale of prostitution in London. To say the entire project is incredibly biased towards prohibition would be an understatement: it calls former prostitutes who gave evidence "survivors", and in the press release (PDF) the co-author, Helen Atkins, has this to say:

It has been said that we are never more than six feet away from a rat in London. Apparently, something similar applies to brothels, places where thousands of women are regularly exploited by men who buy sex.

Instantly then we are presented with the conclusion that women are being exploited by men who buy sex. That this is far from proven, or indeed provable is no issue to either Atkins or Harman. For all the attempts of both to present the report as shocking, it in fact hardly tells you anything that most with more than a passing knowledge of the sex industry know already: that the number of different nationalities involved reflects the multicultural nature of London more than it does the idea that foreign nationals are increasingly being trafficked; that the price of penetrative sex fluctuates wildly from as little as £15 to £250; that sex without a condom costs roughly double that of protected sex; and that most premises are in residential areas with a discreet appearance. Indeed, it tries to have it both ways; prostitutes selling sex on the streets are undoubtedly in the most potential danger, yet the report suggests increasingly that off-street sex is becoming the norm, which ought to be a cause for celebration, that perhaps even without legalisation sex workers are getting together and working indoors in order to be safer. Street prostitutes are also most often those that can't work in brothels because of their drug habits; if they're becoming rarer, it perhaps brings encouragement that drug abuse and dependence is becoming less of a signifier of sex workers.

The report is aimed at taking on misconceptions, such as those arising from glamorous and unrealistic productions like Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It goes without saying that such programmes are ludicrous, and provide only a picture of the very highest realms of escort work. The reality of prostitution can be seen in almost any genuinely pornographic work, where it's more than apparent that sex is one of the least arousing activities around; there is very little that is less erotic than the idea of a woman having sex with 20 different men potentially in a day, of the pain, numbness and withdrawal from real life that has to be taken on board for such a person to survive and live from day to day.

It is however equally dangerous and also completely wrong to assume that an overwhelming majority of those involved in prostitution do not choose it, especially those from abroad, which estimates suggest now make up 80% of those in sex work. For those with families back home, it provides more money than any menial labour job will ever do, and it's one that some indeed choose to do without any coercion. The report tries to challenge the idea of this as a myth, but it fails miserably:

“Women choose prostitution.” It is a choice through lack of choice. A significant number of women involved in street prostitution were groomed as children. Many enter through marginalisation, dependencies and/or economic necessity.

But here the report is trying to have its cake and eat it. This is after all a report on prostitution within brothels, not on the streets; most street prostitutes as we have already mentioned are indeed the most vulnerable who can't work in the premises which the report is investigating. They would have undoubtedly benefited from teaming up in the way that MacTaggart proposed, or through the red light zones, but both have been dropped and are doubtless opposed by those behind this report. It sets up other straw men and then knocks them down, such as the following:

“Anti-prostitution feminists are against women in prostitution.” One of the more convincing lies coming from the pro-sex work lobby is that feminists who define prostitution as ‘abuse’ are against the women themselves. Abolitionists are supportive of women in the sex industry, but against the institution of prostitution (e.g. FCAP, 2008).

Who here after all is in denial? Those who genuinely believe that prostitution can be abolished and that define all prostituition instantly as abuse or those that realise that most feminists are unwilling to accept that those involved in pornography or prostitution are doing it out of free choice or even because they personally find it empowering? After all, it also tries to claim it's a myth that women can also exploit men as much as the men can also exploit the women; it's undoubtedly the case that prostitutes are abused, both physically and sexually whilst selling themselves but those who favour making buying sex illegal will only make this more likely and less actionable by pushing the trade further underground.

It's this that makes the stance of the government so infuriating. Full legalisation is not on the agenda, and considering the potential pitfalls of it, it's probably not anything approaching a solution in the first place. Likewise though, criminalisation of those who buy sex penalises not just the men that are not instantly exploiting the women through their lack of ability to either get into proper relationships, or those that buy it whilst married or in relationships, but also the prostitutes themselves that do choose to work in the industry and would like further protection rather than lectures from women that refuse to openly state their opposition to prostitution as a whole and hide behind the exploited in order to do so. Sex is never going to be something most are going to be able to take openly about, let alone the buying of it, but the hiding behind others, something this government has done repeatedly to quash ancient liberties, is not just politically and morally bankrupt, it's also downright cowardly.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007 

Ipswich - a year after, women are no safer.

From Socialist Unity - The English Collective of Prostitutes on why what happened in Ipswich last December hasn't changed anything.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 

The poverty of prohibition.

It was a weekend of bad ideas, as Alan Johnson's bung for mums illustrated, but on the scale of denseness it's hard to beat the currently only being floated as part of a longer-term action against prostitution idea of making the buying/paying of sex illegal.

Putting aside for a moment there's a reason why women selling their bodies is known as the world's oldest profession, this idea takes its cue directly from the deeply discredited and fatally flawed part of radical feminist ideology that maintains every woman working in the sex trade, whether involved in producing pornography or working the streets is a victim of some sort. Like all the usual strong but deeply misguided ideological positions, it has more than a merit of truth to it: you only had to see the five murdered prostitutes in Ipswich last December, all addicted to one or more drugs, to see that they were victims who needed help. To apply this universally though is naive, discriminatory and even possibly misogynistic. Cast your way through any local newspaper's classifieds, and you're bound to find a whole cavalcade of advertisements for saunas, escorts and women working from flats, almost all of them selling sex, and the vast majority also doing it out of choice.

Radical feminism in general doesn't have an answer for why these women choose to do what they do, so it more or less treats them as though they either don't exist or as traitors to the cause, in it for the money. The irony of this is that those women are the ones with the most to gain from any ban on the buying or the selling of sex; the ones who don't need to walk the streets, hidden away from the gaze of CCTV cameras and the police are already the ones doing the best out of their work, reasonably to excellently paid and able to argue out their own terms. A ban, as well as naming and shaming, also proposed, would only drive the curious kerb-crawler far away from those women who survive by selling their wares on the streets, leaving them far more vulnerable than they already were. If trade dries up, their drug habits or men demanding money don't, pushing them to shoplift or commit other crimes, only making it more likely that they'll become the latest additions to our already overcrowded prison system.

This policy isn't just based around the notion of victimhood though, it's also based on the farcical assumption that you can somehow control human urges through legislation, and also that the selling of sex itself is morally wrong. You can't outlaw the fact that some men either can't or won't develop normal relationships and so use prostitutes on that basis, nor can you stop the philandering bored husband from visiting the local massage parlour, let alone the increasing fad for stag parties to visit European capitals famed for their red light districts. In fact, it's wrong to assume that it's just men using women; while it's on nowhere near the scale of female prostitution, there are more than enough male escorts out there, available for use by both men and women.

After all, it's not necessarily that men are exploiting women; in some cases it's quite the opposite. What is heterosexual pornography if it isn't a woman using what she either was given or bought to extract money from males who simply can't help themselves? It's them taking the money off idiot males who go goggle-eyed at the mention of all those acronyms that make up the specialist end of the market, rather than being exploited by the men invariably involved in running the actual business. The American pornography industry is remarkably self-regulating, thanks to measures brought in during the 80s after the Traci Lords scandal, and the notion that women are being forced into doing anything they don't want to over there is laughable.

Primarily, the government is concerned by figures that supposedly show that 85% of women working in brothels are from foreign countries, and takes this as proof that forced trafficking is endemic. On the contrary, it rather shows that some of these women know full well that they can make decent sums of money in a relatively short time, far beyond what they'd ever earn if they did the menial jobs most of the other migrants from within the EU are coming here to do, and without any of the stigma of walking the streets back in their home country and without their families knowing what they're actually doing. It's undeniable that some women are being effectively kidnapped and then forced into prostitution by gangs who bring them here, but the numbers are tiny compared to those who are actually more than willing to come here for similar purposes.

It's hard not to imagine that as well as appealing to the more feminist thinking members of the cabinet, it's also something that Brown and his "moral compass" couldn't help but be attracted to. Previous plans by the government that suggested allowing women to set-up mini-brothels where three could work, away from both the streets and predators of all kinds were predictably loudly condemned by the usual suspects, i.e. the Daily Mail, etc. Out the window goes Blair's lack of any principles and in comes the clunking fist's crackdown on vice, whether it be in the form of gambling, drinking or sex.

As Diane Taylor points out, the very last thing that will change the current landscape of prostitution, except for the worst will be the criminalising of men who pay for sex. Prostitution is such an intractable problem, without any obvious solution that it's easy to jump to the obvious reactionary position. Until we start valuing drug treatment programmes as much as we do prison cells, and providing real alternatives to street walking as we do to the thump of the gavel, nothing will be any different. And you're sure as hell not going to stop men from seeking out sex, unless you castrate them all at birth, which brings with it other problems.

Related post:
Stumbling and Mumbling - New Labour's misogyny

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Saturday, March 24, 2007 

A fascination for penance.

There are acts of contrition, and then there are gestures that are well-meaning but ultimately end up seeming shallow. Slavery was an abomination, on that everyone agrees. We can feel remorse that our ancestors were complicit in this most disgraceful of injustices, we can commemorate the abolition of it, but can we honestly say we're sorry for something which no one now alive was directly involved in?

This is why the whole "apology" debate to me seems utterly perverse. At a time when the far-right is gaining in strength across Europe, when Iran hosts a conference dedicating to "investigating" what "really happened" in the Nazi death camps, when in Turkey talking about the Armenian genocide can result in you being murdered, and when Japan continues to deny or play down the reality of what occurred during their incursions into Manchuria, we don't need to be sorry about slavery, we have to learn the lessons of it and make sure that it never happens again.

The Home Office finally did something about modern day slavery yesterday. After months of arguing, completely outrageously, that signing the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking would encourage illegal immigrants to claim that they were in fact trafficked sex slaves, John Reid signed the convention. While it's a welcome start, the government is now only allowing women who have been trafficked in and forced to work as prostitutes 30-days leave to remain before being deported back to their country of origin. As was shown when a brothel was raided in late 2005, women who often know little English and who have been terrorised by those they're sold to take a while to open up to anyone, let alone those they don't know and who are more than eager to deport rather than comprehend what they've been through.

Amnesty is instead proposing the "reflection" period be extended to at least 90 days, with up to six months being available if they need further time to recover. This is vital for many reasons: the first purely on the grounds of compassion, and secondly as women who have been deported sometimes find themselves straight back in the hands of those who originally sold them. If these women need sanctuary, then they should be given it rather than simply dumped back home for the sake of the immigration figures.

Modern day slavery is actually probably less of problem than has been made out; as ever, it's been exaggerated by the media, when sometimes eastern European women and others have come here to work as prostitutes purely because of the money that can be earned. This though isn't an excuse for not signing up, and for once the Home Office can be proud that it has done something that honestly will help, rather than hinder.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006 

Littlejohn-watch: They were whores and it's all the liberals fault...

Fisking Littlejohn is even less rigorous than taking on a Sun-article, but by God if today's piece isn't the most despicable little rant from a little man that I've read in a long time:

Let's get the caveat out of the way from the off. The five women murdered in Ipswich were tragic, lost souls who met a grisly end. I sincerely hope whoever killed them is caught, charged and convicted.

That's nice of you. Why is this so reminiscent of the infamous: I'm not a racist, BUT..

And I know this might sound frightfully callous in the current hysterical, emotional climate, but we're not all guilty.

We do not share in the responsibility for either their grubby little existences or their murders. Society isn't to blame.

It might not be fashionable, or even acceptable in some quarters, to say so, but in their chosen field of "work'=", death by strangulation is an occupational hazard.

That doesn't make it justifiable homicide, but in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss.

In a sense, Littlejohn is right. For those of us who have never experienced drug addiction, or had to sell our bodies in order to obtain the money to feed that addiction, we can't even begin to enter into the mindset of those who do it every single day of the year. Instead, we block it out. These people aren't human. They don't exist. If the women had been murdered over a period of years, for instance, rather than in the space of one or two months, and in different ways than through apparent strangulation, then the national media wouldn't so much have touched the case. It might have merited a local TV news report, or the odd paragraph in the local paper. It's easier to pretend these things don't happen. As soon as the word "prostitute" is mentioned to describe the person who has gone missing, they're written off, especially when there are cases of young, attractive, white women who have been killed or gone missing to report instead, who might not so much have sucked a dick, let alone been paid to do so.

This is what Littlejohn is suggesting. Rather than every life being equal, the fact that these women were paying for their drug habits through sex work instantly lowers them below the tragedy of a "normal" person being killed by a serial killer. As some have suggested in recent days, it was only once Peter Sutcliffe had attacked "normal" women that the public really took notice. That this has changed is to be celebrated. Instead, comfortable right wing hacks like Littlejohn are given pages to try to turn back the tide.

They weren't going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur. The only kind of missionary position they undertook was in the back seat of a car.

No, and neither are the vast, vast majority of the population of this country. Is Littlejohn suggesting that their deaths would also be "no great loss"? No, this is just a conceit so that he can get a crude joke in.

Of course their friends and families are grieving. That's what friends and families do. But they should also be asking themselves if there was anything they could have done to prevent what happened.

If you discovered your daughter had gone on the game to feed her heroin habit, wouldn't you move heaven and earth to get her off it?

Well, surprise surprise, Tania Nichol's parents didn't know she was working on the streets, so whether they knew that she was also on drugs is doubtful. Neither did Gemma Adams', and they had tried to help her, but apparently failed. Anneli Alderton had been on drug treatment programmes but failed in her attempts to get off. Paula Clennell's father didn't know she was "on the game". Annette Nichols' cousin had tried to get her off prostitution and drugs, but had also failed.

All of which underlines just the kind of place which street prostitutes find themselves in. They end up there because there usually is nowhere else for them. Their parents may have disowned them, or have similar problems themselves. They may have tried to help but failed. For Littlejohn to just dismissively complain that they should have done more is insulting. By their own nature, most prostitutes are ashamed of what they are reduced to. They often don't want the people who are closest to them, especially relatives, to know what they do.

Frankly, I'm tired of the lame excuses about how they all fell victim to ruthless pimps who plied them with drugs. These women were on the streets because they wanted to be.

We are all capable of free will. At any time, one or all of them could have sought help from the police, or the church, or a charity, or a government agency specifically established to deal with heroin addicts. They chose not to.

As noted above, it looks as if some of them did have help, or attempted to get some. Any person who has battled nicotine addiction will know how difficult it is to give up. Crack cocaine addiction is almost certainly far worse. In a study on monkeys, even when starving and with food in the cage, they would instead use the drug.

Littlejohn is right though that they were on the streets because they wanted to be. As interviews by the media have made clear, they have almost no alternative to doing so. The sad fact is that unless any of those organisations that he mentions had been willing to get any of them straight away onto programmes, then they would have just walked back out. The funding is simply not there, and waiting lists are long, as they are in the prisons as well. Unless treatment becomes as plentiful as the drugs are, the situation will remain the same.

The tortuous twistings of the sisterhood over the past week have been a joy to behold. The 30-yearold Spare Rib T-shirts have been brought out of mothballs and we've been treated to the All Men Are Bastards/Rapists/Murderers mantra from assorted Glendas who ought to be old enough to know better.

As opposed to the Taxi Driver/White Van Man stereotype that Littlejohn lives up to. Besides, at least one Glenda, Carole Malone, has already been out following the line of Littlejohn, rather than the "sisterhood". It also may be something to do with the fact that male commentators, such as AN Wilson, Simon Heffer and Leo McKinstry have already been out blaming the liberals and political correctness.

We've heard the well-rehearsed arguments for legalised and regulated prostitution, as if we were living under the Taliban. The fact is, we've already got de facto legal brothels on every High Street.

They're call saunas or massage parlours.

As I remarked when the Labour MP Joe Ashton was once caught in a Siamese "sauna" in Northampton, he must have been the only man in Britain ever to go to a massage parlour for a massage. It doesn't get much more glamorous than that.

All of this depends on the local police force and local council. Some inevitably turn a blind eye, while others are a lot more hardline. Besides Mr Littlejohn, how is it you know so much about this?

The arguments for regulating and legalising prostitution also go a lot deeper than this, as he well knows. The Observer at the weekend reported that Blair vetoed the attempts by Blunkett, in one of his only sane moves, to introduce regulated "red light zones", which have worked in the Netherlands and Germany. No prostitute has been killed in such zones which have been introduced overseas. Such regulated zones could also be useful in cracking down on human trafficking, meaning that modern day sex slavery could be almost entirely avoided. Littlejohn dismisses all these various suggestions and plans in one swipe of his pen, or tap on his keyboard.

These five women were on the streets because even the filthiest, most disreputable back-alley "sauna" above a kebab shop wouldn't give them house room.

Again, not necessarily. As the pictures of the women have also shown, none of them were the stereotype of a hard-faced, drug-battered old prostitute which so many have of street girls. Diane Taylor has also reported that the police attitude towards prostitutes in Ipswich was not among the most liberal. Really though, this is just Littlejohn attacking the women for being the lowest of the low, an attempt to make the reader feel contempt for them rather than sympathy. They weren't even good enough to work in a mangy brothel, don't you get it?

The men who used them were either too mean to fork out whatever a massage parlour charges, or simply weren't fussy. Some men are actually turned on by disgusting, drug-addled street whores. Where there's demand, there'll always be supply.

Or that some would rather go to an area where it's less likely they'll be caught by someone they know. Most "saunas" are now in areas of high-level CCTV. Down by Ipswich's Portman Road stadium there was none, as the police have found to their disadvantage. Men will always go where they know the working girls are. For some, sex is just sex. It doesn't matter what the woman looks like. Men can also get stung in massage parlours, some of which resemble places like those in Soho where the naive get trapped. Those working on the street are often more honest. As above, this is just another swipe at the women involved. Notice how the men are only insulted for being mean, while the women themselves are "disgusting".

This wasn't a case of women going on the game to put bread on the table, or to look after their "babies". That's what the welfare state is for. They did it for drugs.

No shit? I thought you were meant to tell it like it is, not state the obvious.

The gormless Guardianistas simply refuse to confront this blindingly obvious reality. They would rather deify celebrity druggies such as Kate Moss and Will Self than face the truth that hard drugs wreck lives.

Ah, now we get down to insulting the liberals. It's the gormless Guardianistas that are responsible for these women being on smack. The tabloids which Littlejohn has worked for never so much as cover the lives of celebrity smackheads like Pete Doherty, do they? Besides, this is a false argument. What kind of person looks up to Doherty for being a drug addict? They might for his music, not for the way he's killing himself. How many young people would have even heard of Will Self? "Drug chic", if it does actually exist, which is far from proved, is more evident amongst the celebrity mags and gutter press than it is among the the liberal Guardian and Independent readers. The chattering classes that read the Daily Mail and love their dinner parties are similarly likely to regard cocaine use as aspirational rather than something to look down upon.

Contrary to Littlejohn's liberal insults, as has been noticed, it's been the attitudes of the tabloids towards both tolerance zones and towards treatment programmes that mean they often don't see the light of day, so we don't know whether they would work or not. When Howard Roberts, deputy chief constable of Nottinghamshire police earlier in the year suggested giving heroin to addicts, he was jumped on by the same people who have now jumped to blaming liberals. They want to blame and decry at the same time, without offering any solution themselves other than the current one which is so evidently failing.

What I find most objectionable about all this is the attempt to make us all feel responsible for the murders. There is a nasty whiff of Lady Di about the enforced mood of mourning, with even the Old Bill coming across like hand-wringing archbishops.

This is nothing to do though with the women themselves, or the "liberal" media; it's been the tabloids and TV that have been driving it, as they always have and always did. It's a case of great public interest, and when five young women have been killed, everyone wants the perpetrator to be found, and quickly. The police have learned their mistakes from their past, in the way they dealt with Peter Sutcliffe, and the tone struck by them has been just the right one. This is nothing like the huge, mindless gnashing of teeth that followed Diana's death, which was genuinely enforced mourning on a grand scale.

At Ipswich Town's home game on Saturday, there was a minute's silence. We were supposed to believe that this was a true reflection of the community's sympathy.

I don't buy it. Most people went along with it in the spirit of emotional correctness and through fear of getting their heads kicked in if they didn't.

I'd agree if it had been at football grounds across the land, but this was at Ipswich Town's stadium, very close to the area from where the women disappeared. I heard the minute's silence on the radio, preceded by a moving prayer from a local minister, and it was observed impeccably, with everyone applauding when it was over. The population of Ipswich might know their mood better than a gor blimey hack who probably only read about the silence, rather than heard it.

There was only one thing missing, but don't bet against it.

When Blair gets back from saving the Middle East, don't be surprised if he turns up at the funeral of one of these unfortunate women to deliver a lip-trembling, tear-stained eulogy: "She was the People's Prostitute".

There we go, the obligatory Blair insult. The cherry on the cake of an offensive, heartless piece, a true reflection on the writer himself.

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