Recent reports that a care home procured sex workers for its disabled residents and new film The Sessions have put disability and sex in the spotlight. But is the focus on prostitution helpful? By Frances Ryan
Sex workers advertising on Facebook and Twitter Sex workers are openly using Facebook, Twitter and other social media to openly advertise their services.
Sex workers and escort agencies have created hundreds of unrestricted pages on Facebook. Now prohibitionists are claiming that they are 'thinking of the children' when having a whinge about the website.
Pages supposedly include explicit photographs, descriptions of services alongside phones numbers, addresses and prices.
Facebook has removed dozens of the pages after being contacted by The Times newspaper. The site said it has a clear set of rules and these pages broke them , but said it could only take action when offensive items were reported to them by members
of the public.
The postings were also reported to Twitter, but the microblogging site declined to comment or take action. Under the company's rules, content would need to be illegal to be considered in breach of its terms and conditions.
According to The Times, a parliamentary committee on prostitution has pledged to investigate the problem after the 'revelations'.
Mills Kelly, from George Mason University in the US, who has studied the impact of the internet on prostitution, said:
If you want an escort or sex worker in any major city in the world, Facebook is a good place to start your search.
Eastbourne Borough Council are putting political correctness ahead of basic humanity by investigating a nursing home
that allowed residents to enjoy a bit of sex life.
Managers at Chaseley, a nursing home caring for 55 people in Eastbourne, East Sussex, had been compassionately assisting residents to arrange for sex workers and entertainers.
Staff had kindly been phoning sex workers who met residents in a special room. A red sock is put on the door handle so they are not disturbed. Such visits are known there as a special visits . Care workers said the sex surrogates were therapeutic
and experts claim they are a basic human right .
Sue Wyatt, Chaseley's manager, confirmed prostitutes were welcomed but said staff no longer made the calls to them directly. She said:
People have needs, so sometimes we might need to set up a room in a certain way. We are there to help.
We use a private consultant who arranges everything. She puts people in touch with people. We respect our residents as individuals so that's why we help this to happen.
The home's former manager Helena Barrow Explained that residents always paid for the call girls themselves:
Sex workers are allowed by law to sexually enable people but care workers are not.
If someone asked, we'd often call in a professional. It's known as a resident's 'special visit'. We'd help them with the phone, dial the number, or use the computer to contact someone. If we refused, we would not be delivering a holistic level of care.
But East Sussex County Council has launched an investigation into possible exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people. A council spokesprat said they had been unaware of Chaseley's policy and did not welcome it. He spewed:
This has the potential to place vulnerable East Sussex residents at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Chailey Heritage Foundation, which works with the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance, who campaign for disabled people to be allowed access to sex workers, helped Chaseley develop its policy. Denise Banks of the Foundation said:
If someone asked us to contact a sex worker for them, we would have to be open to that. If we resisted we would be going against the Human Rights Act.
Dr Tuppy Owens, of the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance, said:
Many disabled people are living in perpetual frustration. If someone wants to access a sex worker they should be allowed to do that.
Note that despite sounding like a government group, this whole project is financed by CARE
(Christian Action Research and Education): a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives, according to
The stated goal of the group is:
To raise awareness of the impact of the sale of sexual services on those involved and to develop proposals for government action to tackle individuals who create demand for sexual services as well as those who control prostitutes; to protect prostituted
women by helping them to exit prostitution and to prevent girls from entering prostitution.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade is launching an inquiry to assess the current UK legal settlement surrounding prostitution, and to identify how legislation to tackle demand could safeguard those in danger of
sexual exploitation and abuse.
The group have launched an online Call for Evidence, a misnomer as they are just asking for opinions and feelings, no evidence at all. They have also created an online survey which reveals the intentions of the group in a series of leading questions with
an assumption that those surveyed will support a ban on buying sex.
This is not the way to make a serious inquiry or hold a consultation. The online questionnaire
is not long. Skip if you want to from the introductory palaver to where the questions begin. You may answer anonymously. You may answer as an individual. You may be anywhere in the world.
The deadline for responses is Monday 4 February 2013 at 16:00 .
One of the UK's most famous madams is to open a brothel for people with mental and physical disabilities.
Becky Adams, who ran an illegal brothel for 20 years and wrote an award-winning memoir about her exploits in 2010, plans to open her sexual health centre in 2014, and has invested around £ 62,000 in the project.
Adams' memoir won 2012's Brit Writers Award as well as the Erotic Award, a prize given by Outsiders, an organisation helping disabled people lead full lives.
Adams, who currently runs Para Doxies, a non-profit telephone-based service where volunteers find trusted sex workers for people with disabilities, says such an organisation is vital for those with unique physical and mental problems, and that her
clients have included boys with autism whose parents wish them to have some physical contact and injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan.
She now describes herself as a sexual activist and facilitator . Speaking to ABCNews.com, Adams said:
You cannot stop a disabled person from having a normal life or having the same opportunities of an able-bodied person - it's discrimination.
So I am a facilitator working on behalf of the person to find a sex worker - and it's completely legal. To refuse to do it is a breach of human rights. I act as their voice and limbs.
There are people who have literally spent their whole lives in institutions who have never had physical contact with anyone other than a nurse or doctor.
They have never been held at night by another naked person. And a person who cannot use his arms can't relieve themselves. Literally, they have no way of sexual release, but they have all these sexual feelings.
The report Harm Was Done: prostitution, politics and power in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics , was produced by the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The IUSW write:
Despite all the hype about trafficking and prostitution in the run up to the Olympics, no service interviewed saw more people selling sex or more potential victims of trafficking -- just as well, since none received substantial
increased funds and two had substantial cuts to the service they could offer. One interviewee for our report (see Notes) commented "All this panic and hype, but no money for services!"
Sex Worker Support services say:
"The Games were used as an opportunity to perpetuate the myths around prostitution and major sporting events by organisations and individuals who take an ideological view of prostitution, rather than one informed by the
"[Many of the attendees at the GLA meetings] didn't seem to know anything about the ordinary reality of the sex industry in London, and when you talked about that it was like being the kid pointing out the emperor's new
clothes, nobody wanted to know."
"Policy was based on the ideology -- the belief that prostitution is a form of exploitation -- of a few projects who were driving the agenda and using trafficking to get support for their work, both financial and
And the harm continues -- one service provider said "It's not just the Olympics -- they're still shutting places down and they don't think of the consequences for the women, it's driving it underground and we don't get any
access to deliver services at all. Women still have families living in poverty, they still have to make a living, and they're less safe doing it."
An IUSW report for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (17 December) reveals that concerns raised by frontline services for people in the sex industry were ignored by the GLA's "Sexual Exploitation"
group. Services say:
"[Sex workers are] less likely to report crimes because they don't trust the police as much as they used to"
"It was just horrendous. Women being thrown out [of brothels] with no regard for their safety" "Places you'd been going to for ages would close, and you'd lose touch with all the people you'd been supporting
"If [policy makers] listened to us, they wouldn't have done what they did."