Mark Wakeling is director of the National Christian Alliance on Prostitution, an umbrella group of projects supporting people involved in the sex industry.
The alliance supports a new government initiative encouraging prostitutes to report sexual and violent crimes to the police.
Why is a campaign urging prostitutes to report sexual and violent crime necessary?
It shows a commitment to addressing the violence which happens on the streets. A clear message is communicating that violence against people involved in prostitution is not accepted. This is extremely important not only to the perpetrators but also to the victims, who have often given up on reporting incidents believing their case will not be dealt with adequately. Although this initiative is welcome, there is still a long way to go to ensure justice is available for all.
The government strategy on prostitution was published in January 2006. Is it already working to support those involved in prostitution?
We welcome the government strategy and the commitment to provide greater support for people to exit prostitution. It is still too early to judge whether it is working. One key area of concern is that while much is made of the importance of support services to enable exiting prostitution, there has been no additional funding announced to ensure these services are adequately developed.
With much of the implementation expected to happen locally, there are questions over whether there will be enough commitment to the strategy. We feel there needs to be regular reviews both nationally and locally.
A new Channel Five comedy, Respectable, is set in a brothel. Is this a good idea?
Although we recognise that comedy is always covering contentious issues and stretching boundaries, we are also aware how much people’s attitudes and understanding can be created by the media. Our concern is that programmes such as Respectable continue to portray prostitution as glamorous and an area of fun and the often horrific reality goes unaddressed.
What work do projects affiliated to the National Christian Alliance on Prostitution do?
The majority are involved in street outreach – most of their time is normally spent on the ongoing support that service users require. Many projects run a drop-in facility and work with other local agencies.
How does the alliance support projects?
We are a network for mutual support, advice and information exchange for groups. We run staff training, produce leaflets, co-ordinate regional networks, develop best practice, share polices, pool resources, lobby, and more.
NCAP began informally in 1995 when projects began sharing ideas and is now a registered charity.
Our Christian values determine that we treat others with respect, dignity and compassion. We are committed to working with local churches, teams and other groups, who are working with those in prostitution.
For more information, visit National Christian Alliance on Prostitution
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