English Collective of Prostitutes
Crossroads Women's Centre, PO Box 287, London, NW6 5QU
On eve of public enquiry
protection not eviction
Hear from: women whose loved ones were recently
Contact: the English Collective of Prostitutes: Tel (0207) 482 2496/07956 316 899
Elizabeth Valad, the young mother whose body was so tragically found in bin bags in Camden, North West London a month ago, is one of three women to be murdered in recent years who were forced out of Soho flats by Westminster. One local woman commented:
Soho is one of the longest established red light areas and has traditionally been a safe place for women to work. Sex workers are part of a strong protective community and have support from other residents including the Soho Society, the Rector of the local church and many local businesses. Yet Westminster Council continues to issue Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) saying that prostitution is a "blight to the local environment and quality of life for people living, working and visiting in the neighbourhood". Westminster Council cannot abide that women are working independently and taking care of each other. Prostitute women and their maids are protesting against the CPOs and have forced a public enquiry to be heard on Tuesday 11 February.
Instead of protecting prostitute women the police have used their regular ‘security’ visits to harass, searching flats and possessions and pass information to immigration officers. In February 2001 over 60 flats were raided and only the prompt intervention of the sex worker community and Legal Action for Women prevented immigrant and asylum seeking women being sent back to the war-torn countries they had fled from. Mothers were separated from their children. The raids have continued weekly. They must stop.