Today a friend of mine posted an article from The Observer about the death of a young woman called Mariana Popa. Mariana Popa was a 24-year-old woman (a year older than my little sister and a year younger than me) who was killed by her punter who stabbed her to death. The article laid blame for this death not at the feet of the vicious punter but at those of the police. Furthermore, the article barely mentioned Mariana, or her life, at all; the writer referred to her as a prostitute throughout. The article seemed to revel in apportioning blame to the police rather than discussing the truth of Mariana and also, the blame that society as a whole should take responsibility. The article has some brief statistics at the end, statistics that merited further expansion upon in the piece. Please be aware that I do not wish to create a victim of Mariana rather I want justice for her and all those women who suffer at the hands of dodgy punters. The stats state that more than half of women who sex work in the UK have been raped or sexually assaulted. This number is most likely not a scratch of the true numbers. Street based sex workers are 12 times more likely to be murdered than women in the same age group in the UK. Every person deserves the right to work without fear of violence. You should not go to work with the fear of rape or death. And no person ever deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted, these events devastate lives and may take a lifetime to come to terms with. Furthermore, the wonderful charity One25 (based in Bristol) has found that all of their service users suffer from chronic ill health and around half require immediate medical attention for acute ill health. Neither do I want to cast judgement on anyone's choice to sex work but it saddens me that for many women they are not able to make a free choice. Three-quarters of sex workers began this work as children. Is it free choice when school teachers, social workers and family members failed to notice? But what if family and home are not safe places? What if you don't have a safe place? Up to 7 in 10 sex workers have spent time in care. Almost half report filial sexual abuse, again this probably is a unrealistically low number. A further 85% have suffered physical abuse. What if you had grown up in fear? This fear could lead to substance misuse. Can the use of drugs be a free choice if you are running away? A study from the Prostitution Licensing Authority found that in Queensland, Australia 75.8% of street sex workers had begun work to finance addiction. One25found that 99% of their service users were addicted to a Class A drug (heroin and/or crack cocaine) and/or alcohol. The average age of first use was 13. Is that choice? When your life becomes about finding the release that only drugs give, is that choice? When you have been using for so long that you cannot imagine a life without them? 74% of female sex workers said that poverty was the primary motivator. Is it free choice when you don't know where your next fix or your next pint of milk will come from? These are real questions when 80% of One25's service users are homeless and 92% suffer from malnutrition. For a country that is famous for its welfare state, how are 92% of one particular occupation suffering from malnutrition. In a country which often feels like a continuous building site, how are 80% homeless?
So please, keep Mariana in your thoughts and remember the police are not solely responsible for her death. We all are.
If you would like to support One25, please click here. Every penny donated will go to support women who are someone's sister, someone's daughter, someone's mum.
References come from The Guardian, One25 and the Prostitution Licensing Authority.
Now for the fashion. As we have all noticed in Blighty, is that is has got rather nippy over the weekend. Gone is the rain and here are my frostbitten hands. Today, during invigilation, I was wearing gloves and my coat, huddled next to a radiator that wasn't on. But at least I wasn't the one doing the exam! This gorgeous outfit kept me delightfully cosy, once I'd left the exam room!
|Birthday pressie from my yummy mummy big sister!|
|Christmas pressie from my little sis!|
|A present from my Grandma Betty to my Mum and now a present for me!|
Tunic: Jack Wills
Scarf: Tie Rack