We the undersigned are writing to express our support for the workers at Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield, where the licence is currently up for renewal, and for the rights of all workers in the sex industry at large. We believe that:
- Sex work is work, and that following Amnesty International and the World Health Organisation, workers in the sex industry are best-served by laws and policies that seek to maintain their employment rights and involve them in meaningful participation in any discussion of law and policy that affects their lives and safety.
- That the workers at Spearmint Rhino should be a priority group for the council to consult on licensing issues.
- That sex work should not be stigmatised as uniquely or especially oppressive to women in the context of widespread misogyny and male violence against women.
- The argument that Spearmint Rhino is harmful to its employees and to women and other minority groups in the vicinity of the club serves to refocus attention away from the real perpetrators of that harm (men who harass women, and who are subject to the already-existing legislation that prohibits that behaviour).
- Refusing to relicense Spearmint Rhino would force the closure of the club and result in job losses, potentially leading to people seeking alternative work under more dangerous conditions.
- Sex work is legal, and advocating to take away women’s choice to do safe, legal work is anti-feminist and anti-worker.
We therefore call upon the council to renew the licence for Spearmint Rhino and to consult with the workers there about whether there should be additional license requirements attached to the licence which would ensure their health and safety.
We also ask the council to consider the above arguments in all cases where licences for lap dancing clubs and other similar businesses come up for renewal.
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