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The Hampshire Resolution

www.hampshirewi.org.uk

The Story of the Hampshire Resolution

Holybourne WI sent a resolution to the Hampshire Federation to ask local authorities to provide safe working spaces for working girls. This was due to the fact that five girls were murdered in Ipswich.

Hampshire WI members voted on the resolution and supported it 100%. After the newspapers had reported the resolution, television and radio went totally wild! They could not believe that  a Hampshire WI would mention the subject of prostitution, but we realised it could so easily be our daughters, granddaughters or sisters. After all the excitement, a film company asked Shirley Landels and Jean Johnson to travel the world looking at how other countries deal with prostitution. They visited projects in Amsterdam, Nevada and New Zealand. The film was shown in August 2008. Sadly Shirley died suddenly in October 2008 but Jean is still campaigning hard.

Jean has visited the House of Lords to discuss these situations on many occasions, and met with MPs from the three political parties, attend an Oxford Union Debate where the resolution was put forward, "This house would decriminalise prostitution." This resolution passed with a majority.

Hampshire Federation are the first federation to address the Oxford Union and in September 2010 Jean Johnson led the debate at Manchester University and in November she addressed Trinity College in Dublin. At this debate, speakers also included Professor Raymond Tallis, Columnist Julie Bindle and was chaired by Irish Supreme Court Justice, Susan Denham.

At the end of June, Jean went to the House of Commons and met up with three MPs - Labour, Green and Conservative, along with two working girls, a criminal lawyer, representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes and also representatives from the Royal College of Nursing to look at ways of Decriminalising Prostitution. 

This is a subject that can no longer be brushed under the carpet, the murders in Bradford must cause great concern. We are a women's organisation and feel it is necessary to have a public debate on this issue.

VICTORY – AMENDMENT TO CRIMINALISE SEX WORKERS' CLIENTS DEFEATED    (dated 4 November 2014)

We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a "review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation" was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.

This is a massive victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short notice, drew a good crowd. The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps,  and anti-racists opposed to this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.