Olympic Games: Red Card For London Sex Workers


The London Olympics is not big business for everyone  —sex workers say they are being cleared from the streets around the stadium to make the area more presentable for the Games.

While Britain’s limp economy hopes for an Olympic boost, police in Newham, the deprived east London borough that is home to the stadium, have closed some 80 brothels in the 18 months to March, according to a study by a local councillor.

“For the last two years we’ve seen a real increase in police activity in relation to sex work in the Olympic host boroughs,” said Georgina Perry, who runs Open Doors, a government project supporting east London prostitutes.

“Some of the women who sell sex have experienced so many brothel closures that they are now working on the street, and that is a much less safe place,” she told AFP.

“Street women are experiencing a lot of police requests for them to move on from the area. They’re not wanted there during the Olympic Games.”

The expected influx of two million visitors for the Olympics has led Prime Minister David Cameron to predict a £13 billion ($20.2 billion, 16.3 billion euro) boost for the economy over the next four years.

But the sex trade looks likely to miss out on any benefits, campaigners say.

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Prostitution is legal in Britain, but keeping a brothel is outlawed, as are other related activities such as curb-crawling.

London’s Metropolitan Police have denied that the brothel raids were connected to the Olympics, saying they were “in response to community concerns”.

“Any police activity regarding prostitution has been undertaken as part of normal policing responsibilities,” a police spokeswoman told AFP.

But London’s mayor Boris Johnson openly supports a crackdown on the sex trade ahead of the Olympics.

“We are determined to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking in the run up to the London 2012 Games,” a statement on his website reads.

Scotland Yard said it was unable to specify the number of east London brothels that have been raided and sex workers arrested in the run-up to the Olympics.

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