UVW members, including a growing number of strippers, are appalled by the latest tactic of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) in their misguided campaign to abolish strip clubs for the imagined benefit of the women involved. In Sheffield and Manchester, men hired by the WEP covertly filmed nude and semi-nude dancers in legal strip clubs.
In their self-appointed mission to ‘save’ dancers, the WEP continues to put women’s livelihoods at risk, while ignoring the explicit wishes of the women involved. As a feminist trade union, UVW is extremely alarmed by this practice. We will be seeking legal remedies for our members, and offer solidarity to all dancers affected by this harmful behaviour.
Filming people undercover, without explicit and direct consent and in clear violation of their right to privacy, is not just immoral — it is unlawful. Sharing what could amount to ‘revenge porn’ of naked women, obtained with the explicit aim to undermine and harm them, constitutes harassment and misuse of private information under UK law.
We demand that the WEP and its collaborators destroy immediately all footage obtained illegally inside clubs and apologise to the dancers. Dancers have made it clear that they don’t need rescuing, They need a dignified workplace where they can earn a living to support themselves and their families.
Women choose to work in strip clubs for the same reasons people choose a wide variety of jobs: funding university studies, family needs, a disability and a scarcity of other work options. All of them are working because they need to make a living under increasingly difficult conditions — extortionate housing costs, inaccessible and inadequate benefits, lack of childcare and falling wages in other industries.
Amnesty International and the World Health Organisation have repeatedly declared that 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.
We demand that the WEP cease its campaign of harassment and intimidation against dancers in Sheffield, Manchester and elsewhere. If they want to help women, they should campaign against austerity measures and poverty wages. Reducing women’s job options is active harm to their livelihoods. If they want to help dancers working in clubs, they are welcome to join UVW’s unionising efforts, listen to women and support them on their own terms.
Workers are best placed to advocate for their own rights and safety at work, and dancers across the UK are organising to ensure that protections from harassment, intimidation and exploitation are in place. UVW is currently seeking recognition in a number of clubs in order to represent our workers’ collective interests.
For further information about the sex work campaign please contact Shiri Shalmy — firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07929 252724