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Massage parlour owner calls for prostitution law change

A teenage prostitute stands on a street
Laura believes street prostitution is much more dangerous than brothel work

A massage parlour owner from Leicester believes brothel prostitution should be decriminalised in Britain to increase safety for vulnerable sex workers.

Laura Kane, herself a former prostitute, has run a parlour in the city for the last six years.

In the UK selling sex in itself is not illegal, but brothels and street prostitution are against the law.

Her comments follow a call for a prostitution laws debate by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Laura rents rooms to two women a day, who she said are given complete control of the money they earn, the customers they see and the services they offer.

Around 60 to 70 clients visit the massage parlour each week.

A prostitute stands in a brothel window
Controlling prostitution for gain is illegal
It is illegal to solicit sex in a public environment or from a motor vehicle (kerb crawling)
Keeping a brothel (where two or more prostitutes work) is illegal
Since April 2010, paying for sexual acts from a prostitute subjected to force is illegal, regardless of prior knowledge
Closure orders on premises being used for activities related to certain sexual offences were also introduced

Laura is fully aware she is operating an illegal business but said the safety of the women she works with is of great importance.

"The only way you can work legally in Britain is on you own, which is dangerous, and I know none of my girls would want to work on their own.

"They're quite happy to work in the little environment we've got."

Laura claims stricter legislations brought out by the Labour government in April 2010 has pushed prostitution further underground and is preventing sex workers from reporting attacks, for fear their brothel will be issued with a closure order.

Shortly after the new legislations were passed, the receptionist at her massage parlour was punched by a regular customer.

Laura said where usually she would have immediately called the police, in this case the women involved decided against further action as they were concerned about finding themselves prosecuted and losing their jobs.

Sergeant Nicola Woods said she could not personally comment on the legality of brothels, but if the law were to change Leicestershire Constabulary would follow Home Office ruling.

She added that the police are aware of massage parlours being used as sex premises in the county, but were cautious in their approach to prosecution.

"What we have to weigh up is the impact it has on the community around them and the vulnerability of the people who work there, whether they're being forced into it.

"So we have to weigh up all these things, but also there's an element of safety of being in a premises that's being run by somebody."

Call for action on prostitutes
12 Mar 09 |  Leicestershire



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