‘Legalise brothels to protect women from prostitution’, says bishop

Last updated at 12:56pm on 17th April 2008

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A Catholic bishop today claimed that legalising brothels may be the only way to protect vulnerable women who are drawn into prostitution.

 

Despite branding the sex trade as immoral, Bishop Crispian Hollis, the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, Hants, is backing a campaign to license brothels.

The bishop’s comments come after Hampshire Women’s Institute launched a bid to legalise council-run whore-houses.

Bishop Crispian said: “Prostitution, and all that goes with it, is dehumanising and can be vicious. “Women engaged in it are open to exploitation and victimisation.

“It is also associated with violence, the drug culture and the tragedy of worldwide human trafficking.

“A way of life that involves such things is immoral and can never be justified, and there are serious issues at stake which must be addressed.

“Some say that the legalising of brothels may afford some measure of protection to a very vulnerable group of women.

“If this is true, such legislation could be useful.”

Last October WI member Jean Johnson, 62, suggested that Hampshire WI, better known for its needlework and jam-making skills, should campaign to legalise brothels.

More than 200 groups across the county, containing 7,000 members, backed the motion and their controversial campaign has been gathering momentum.

Bishop Crispian described the WI plans as ‘a response to things as they are, a situation in which prostitution, sadly, exists’.

The WI said estimates suggest there are as many as 600 brothels across Hampshire.

And while some prostitutes work by choice others are forced into sex slavery after being smuggled into the UK by human traffickers, it claims.

Sergeant Belinda D’Orsey, who runs Hampshire police’s vice squad, said officers mainly target streetwalking prostitutes in Southampton, Hants.

She said most of these women are homeless drug addicts who need help to break the cycle of addiction and prostitution.

But she added that officers also responded to complaints about brothels.

She said: “My team receives complaints about brothels from neighbours fed up with constant noise and male clients turning up drunk and knocking the wrong door.

“We also receive complaints from parents who believe that their underage daughter is being sexually exploited and want her back.

“Or we hear from working girls that are fearful of the madam or pimp and male clients concerned for the working girls’ ages or well being.”

Earlier this month, WI members Mrs Johnson and Shirley Landells, 73, set off on an unlikely round-the-world trip in search of prostitutes.

The ladies are touring the red light district of Amsterdam and will visit a ‘bunny ranch’ in America dubbed ‘the best little whorehouse in the western world’.

They also plan to jet to New Zealand to learn how girls there run their own mini brothels.

The pensioners aim to talk to prostitutes and pimps to see how other countries handle the oldest profession.

When they return they will brief fellow WI members on their findings and submit them as part of a campaign to legalise prostitution and provide greater protection for working girls.

The campaign has been condemned by Labour MP for Portsmouth North, Sarah McCarthy Fry. She said: “I think it’s totally the wrong message.

“If we just say it’s always gone on and it always will so let’s make it legal, that’s copping out.

“We need to be much more robust about people trafficking and there are discussions going on at the moment about that.”

Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, Paul Kernaghan, said: “There is on the face of it a case for licensed brothels.

“However, does that imply society’s blessing for prostitution? And will it be accompanied by taxation of prostitutes’ earnings? “There is a case for an open public debate.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=560265&in_page_id=1770

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