At the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) event in Glasgow, the ECP revealed that after police failed to deal with a serial rapist, they funded a successful private prosecution. But the two women had their Criminal Injuries Compensation cut by 50% – because they sex workers.
Para 25 p11 of the Ministry of Justice’s Guidelines state that compensation can be cut for “conduct”:
An award may be withheld or reduced where the conduct of the applicant before,during or after the incident giving rise to the criminal injury makes it inappropriate to make an award or a full award.
Sex work was considered “conduct” which provoked the rape. No other job could be so willfully and openly punished, and no other rape victim would have been victim-blamed so much. If anyone was in doubt that sex workers are stigmatised, this is the final proof.
Happily, the problem is easy to remedy. Para 25 goes on to say “For this purpose, conduct does not include intoxication through alcohol or drugs to the extent that such intoxication made the applicant morevulnerable to becoming a victim of a crime of violence.” So all that is needed is for the words “choice of career”, “work”, “sex work” or similar before or after the line about intoxication.
As Irish Law student @belowcontempt noted, the Irish Criminal Compensation laws are even more far-reaching, though they also do not specify rape or sex work.
Compensation was witheld – for both rape and murder – in Australia in 2006. The judge reportedly made shocking comments like “this wasn’t a woman waiting at home for her husband.”
Women are being reduced to their job – sex work. They aren’t human beings, they’re commodities. This is also insulying to men because it imples that rape is simply a risk of the job, that all clients are potential rapists.
The targetting of sex workers raises a number of philosophical conundrums: would compensation be cut if a sex worker is raped while not doing sex work, for example if she is raped by her husband? What if a man is raped one hour before exiting the sex industry? Or if, an hour after being raped, a woman joins becomes a sex worker (and how would the start time be calculated, anyway? Her first phone call to the escort agency, or when she sees her first client?) Gaye Dalton (@mechanima) raised an interesting question: where would I fit? How would they see my conduct? Are all sex workers equally culpable in their own rapes, or are VirginWhores less fallen so maybe should only have their compensation cut by a third instead of by half? Or is selling virginity even more reprehensible to men who literally reward (with compensation) sexual inexperience in women and punish experience?
This is disgusting. A century ago, rape wasn’t recognised as rape if the victim was not a virgin. And it looks like nowadays, rape isn’t really rape if the victim is not a non-sex worker. The Criminal Compensation Scheme is literally ascribing more value to ‘good women’ than to sex workers.
And even in its misogyny, it fails. Because non-sexworkers can be “sluts” and they won’t even require payment for doing it. At least sex workers only do it for work. And as I pointed out above, it seems to be a lottery of when you get raped – if you haven’t stopped or started sex work yet, you get double the compensation.
Government incentives to keep the women of Britain pure and under control.
Ministry of Justice Criminal Injuries Compensation Guidelines: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/victims-and-witnesses/cic-a/am-i-eligible/criminal-injuries-comp-scheme-2012.pdf
The Irish Department of Justice’s guidelines: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Criminal_Injuries_Compensation_Scheme