As Charlotte Rose, sex worker and therapist, states: "It will never end, it’s the oldest profession in the world."
Britain has finally decided to acknowledge that fact with the first permanent, legalised 'red light district', in the city of Leeds. The move follows a successful pilot scheme where sex workers in a particular area could advertise their wares without the risk of arrest between the hours of 7pm and 7am.
The city's council will be continuing the policy indefinitely following a positive reaction to their efforts to encourage prostitutes to report crimes and exploitation to police.
UK laws already view prostitution - the exchange of money in return for sex - as legal, but a number of related activities (soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping and pandering) are all illegal. This move enables these activities to be lawful within a limited physical space and time.
Reaction to the move has been mixed, according to the Daily Mail at least, with some businesses complaining that the move legalises a crime (well, that's kind of the point), with others seemingly 'horrified'. They also give reports that the area is under-policed, with people having sex next to cars and buildings, and sex and drug paraphernalia littering the streets. Local business owner Tony Calmonson said: "They keep saying it’s a success, but I don’t know what criteria they define success. I’ve not come across anyone in favour of this. But what can you do?"
However, Superintendent Sam Millar, of West Yorkshire Police, said "Having gone through years and years of enforcement, which hasn’t achieved the outcomes of breaking the cycle of sex work, we wanted to do something different which might help us better achieve those outcomes, to be brave and take some risks."
In addition, Councillor Mark Dobson said that the managed area was not a "universal cure-all" but a "pragmatic approach".