‘Feminists can’t tell us what to do with our bodies’: sex workers fight council strip club ban in Edinburgh | UK News

Edinburgh strippers have told Sky News that the council’s decision to ban sex entertainment venues (SEVs) will devastate them financially, as clubs and the union launch a judicial review to challenge the closure of clubs in the city.

Three Edinburgh clubs (Baby Dolls, The Western and Burke and Hare) and the United Sex Workers (USW) union argue that the council’s vote to limit the number of licensed sites to zero from April 2023 will force the industry to hide, which will make it more risky for women.

“It should be my choice”

Edinburgh dancer Sasha has told Sky News the choice should be hers.

“I think it’s our right to choose that and I don’t think it’s fair for feminists to tell women what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies, what jobs they should do and what jobs they shouldn’t do,” she said.

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Sasha is an Edinburgh based stripper

Sasha added that working as a stripper means a lot of money and flexible hours which helps her as a mother.

“As a parent I find it very flexible and there is potential for it to be well paid so it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Especially the flexibility, the money is never guaranteed, but the flexibility is great.”

Sasha doesn’t believe changing what she’s doing is an option.

“It’s not that easy, we’ve been doing what most of us have been doing for years – and that’s our job, that’s our industry and that’s what we want to keep doing. to earn money.”

“Quintessence of the patriarchy”

However, for those campaigning for strip clubs to be banned, they say the choice to do this work should not be available.

Former union councilor and writer Susan Dalgety thinks the council’s decision is fair for women.

“As a feminist, I believe that men who pay us for sexual favors are the worst form of exploitation of our bodies,” she said.

Susan Dalgety, former Edinburgh Labor councilor
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Susan Dalgety, former Edinburgh Labor councilor

“And it’s the epitome of patriarchy that men are much more powerful in society than women, and all we’re here for is either to breed the next generation or for the sexual entertainment of men. .

“All Edinburgh is doing is saying that in our city we don’t want to legitimize sexual entertainment. It’s live pornography.

“These are young women who strip and dance sexually for the pleasure of men.”

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Ms. Dalgety’s opinions have changed. As a youth counselor, she believed such clubs should exist and be properly regulated for the safety of women.

In the 1990s, she voted to allow saunas “knowing full well they were brothels”.

“Edinburgh was the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and it spread through the drug use community,” she said.

“So it was in the heterosexual community and sex workers, unfortunately, were at much higher risk,” Ms Dalgety said, adding that the political choice at the time was “a public health decision”, but now she thinks the very existence of any venue for sexual entertainment is problematic.

Forcing women into dangerous conditions

Mina from the USW union told Sky News the exploitation is not in the clubs; instead, it is about forcing women to work in minimum wage jobs.

“Patriarchy exists in all aspects of society, so clearly stripping is not exempt from it. However, it is the dancer’s decision to choose this form of work, they are not exploited “, she said.

Mina from united sex workers
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Mina from the United Sex Workers union

“United Sex Workers considers that closing a legal and regulated workplace for dancers who are predominantly women would force them to work in more hazardous conditions, particularly in a cost of living crisis.

“Sex workers should not be blamed for the exploitation of real violence, because it divides women into particles of good and evil. And it’s never that simple, and it’s not fair.”

Previously, sex workers told Sky News that the cost of living crisis prevents them from saying no to dangerous customers.

The decision is for the “prevention of crime and disorder”

In a statement, Edinburgh City Council told Sky News the decision to close strip clubs was for “the preservation of public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder” and that “SEVs can always ask for a license and a committee would review them, contrary to agreed policy”.

The judicial review decision is expected to take several weeks or even months.

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