Cross-posted from: Ruth Jacobs, originally published: 19.11.14.

A rainy night in Belfast. Cold and wet with a wind whipping round the corners of the barren streets where women used to stand. How things have changed. A decade ago, even on such a horrible early winter’s night, there would have been activity, but the law changed and drove the women away. Many moved inside, others stood in darker corners by derelict houses or under battered trees in city parks, waiting for the cars.

Now, the law’s about to change again. Protesting that they don’t want to criminalise the women – just the men who seek out the women – the gentle Sinn Fein folk demanded that the old rule against loitering for the purposes of prostitution be struck down.

We talked about this, a few of us, at the quaintly but tautologically-named Commercial Sex-workers’ Clinic recently. The wonderful woman and man who run the service rolled their eyes. They didn’t want Clause 6 of Morrow’s Bill and they certainly didn’t think this ‘concession’ was going to fool anyone.

Do the politicians honestly think we’re stupid? Do they think that everyone will raise a cheer, don their boots and warm fake-fur coats and stake out a patch? Do they think we won’t be able to pick out the plain clothes police in their unmarked cars…..watching and waiting? Because that’s what will happen.

Let’s pretend you’re an officer in the PSNI. This is just a simple scenario. The heat is on from the DUP and Sinn Fein, and most of the rest, to do something with their newly-constructed law that makes it a criminal offence to buy a sexual service, but not sell one. There’s lots of other crime you’d like to fight and incidents you should be attending, but this CARE-fully crafted law crossed the benches at Stormont and had the politicians and radical feminist sisterhood back-slapping each other and now the pressure is building to come up with some convictions to justify their foolishness.

Everyone knows that indoor work is the mainstay of sex work, but it’s painstaking and time-consuming to track it down and prove. So for a quick statistical fix, it’s easier to place the street workers and their clients in your sight. A couple of nights, a couple of unmarked cars. A relatively cheap operation. It has to be done.

© and source/ rest: A Room of Our Own

(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)

#womensstories: Enforcing Northern Ireland’s new Swedish-style sex purchase law (via @RuthJacobs/ @roomofourown)