As chair of the Women’s Safety Task Group (WSTG) in Bristol, One25’s CEO Anna Smith has previously represented the Group voicing support for the nil cap on sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) in the city.
The WSTG is part of Bristol Women’s Commission which was established to address inequalities faced by women and girls in Bristol. The WSTG has a remit around safety issues. Its view on SEVs is based on research that illustrates the link between SEVs and misogynistic attitudes. Such attitudes are ultimately the cause of widespread violence against women and girls in our society and around the world.
One25’s ethos is to be non-judgemental towards the women we work with, especially those we meet who are trapped in street sex work and who are stigmatised and marginalised by wider society. We now recognise that the work for a nil cap on SEVs does not align with this. Anna Smith says:
“One25 participates in a range of strategic groups to ensure that the women’s voices are heard and inform service provision in the city. At One25 we recognise that the sex industry is broad-reaching and multi-faceted. Our aims are to promote women’s safety, improve their health and wellbeing and support them to have choices.
“I am a member of the WSTG because the women One25 work with have a right to be heard; taking a leadership role within it has meant that I have been called on to represent it across the range of its areas of concern. I now recognise that it was unhelpful for me to be involved with the work in support of a nil cap on SEVs as this has led to confusion about One25’s position with regards to sex work. It is important that I state this while the Bristol City Council’s consultation on SEVs is still open. I apologise for this as well as for any associated concern or upset to our supporters and to women who work in SEVs in Bristol. I will ensure that this does not happen again.
“Whilst we are interested in the laws around sex work, our focus is on providing the best possible services for the women we support and to advocate for them at all levels. We are neither for or against sex work but rather meet women where they are to provide non-judgemental and holistic support in accordance with their needs. There is a wide range of views amongst our community, as in any group of people. We plan to consult with stakeholders soon as part of a review of what is an appropriate stance, if any, for One25 to hold in relation to sex work and the law. We will involve women across our services to ensure that their voices inform the review.”
One25 exists to support marginalised women who face multiple disadvantages (including those who street sex work) to find freedom and independence in the community. We aim to do this in a totally non-judgemental way and work hard to remove barriers that prevent women getting the support services that they need.
Last year we worked with 237 women. As a result of this: 123 women were able to use specialist services and get the help they needed; 134 were safer; and 77 developed skills and independence. What brings the One25 community together is our shared vision for a world where all women are safe, feel loved and thrive. We will continue to strive for this in everything that we do.