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Help us change the conversation

There are many issues that make up the conversation around prostitution and sexual exploitation. Often though the conversation is based around the assumption that women in prostitution either need rescuing or could simply choose to leave if they wanted to. The reality is far more complicated for most.

It’s about making difficult choices and compromises to support yourself and your family. And stigma and judgement that can make you feel lonely and isolated, and stop you from getting help when you need it.

By helping us change the conversation, and increasing understanding of the wider issues, our hope is that people will see that all women involved in prostitution, as well as women who have experienced sexual exploitation, deserve compassion, respect, safety and freedom, regardless of who they are or the journey they’ve been on.

Prostitution and the law

People often ask us what our stance on prostitution is, particularly around whether it should be legal.

There are different legal frameworks around the world. Some people argue that legalising prostitution would help reduce harm by, for example, giving women more rights through social protection, and that not legalising it increases harm and exploitation of women.

The other common debate is around tackling demand for prostitution – whether buying sexual consent should be legal or not, and whether criminalising it reduces demand.

As a faith-based organisation there is also often the assumption that we want to rescue women.

From our experience we have seen that the issues are far broader, more complex and challenging. To address the inherent harms and exploitation associated with prostitution, the underlying reasons why women are drawn into prostitution and sexual exploitation must also be considered.

Prostitution - the wider context

Our work is at the intersection of issues associated with prostitution, modern slavery and human trafficking, and violence against women and girls, where issues to do with gender equality, women’s rights and equality of opportunity play a role in women’s route into and out of prostitution and experience of exploitation.

For us, empowerment of women is about parity of women – leadership and participation, economic empowerment, education, access to justice, and role in culture and society. So it’s vital to take a balanced view of the multiple factors involved, and to consider how as a society we can be more strategic in working together to address the root issues. Issues that are barriers to women’s empowerment, equality of opportunity and choice.

How do we do this?

Through front line care and support, and advocating for women’s rights and empowerment.

This approach drives the programmes, partnerships, advocacy, lobbying or campaigns we get involved with.

Read more about the issues

The following sites have more information on these wider aspects, how they impact women’s lives and how people are getting together to address these issues. They take a global and humanitarian approach. Some we’re involved with directly. But they all align with our perspective and understand the interconnected issues on an international scale.

Talitha Kum

Talitha Kum is an international network of religious organisations, including the Sisters Adoratrices. The members work together to address abuse and sexual exploitation of women and girls around the world, with particular focus on anti-trafficking. They focus on prevention, protection, social reintegration and rehabilitation of survivors, partnership and advocacy, and promoting actions that affect the systemic causes.

You can read more on their website. They also have a number of useful resources available here

RENATE

Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation

Rahab is a member of RENATE, an anti-trafficking network of faith communities in Europe, spanning 136 networks in 31 countries.

Santa Marta Group

The Santa Marta Group is a body comprising international law enforcement agencies, civil society, NGOs and the Catholic Church working together to raise awareness and eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Our Trustee, Kevin Hyland, helped establish the group, which was developed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in collaboration with the London Metropolitan Police. It is led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. Named after the Papal residence, the initiative was launched by Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014. The Sisters spoke at the inaugural meeting, which was also moderated by Rahab ambassador, Julie Etchingham.

The Santa Marta Group website is an excellent source of information on what is happening globally with law enforcement working with civil society.

UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Their website is a great portal of information about gender equality and issues affecting women around the world. Find out more on the UN Women website.

Trust Conference

Trust Conference is a leading annual conference and human rights forum. It brings together a diverse range of organisations, policy makers, government officials and grassroots NGOs working at the forefront of human rights.

The conference looks at what’s happening globally around gender equality and the role of women in society and is committed to finding real solutions to empower women and advance human rights worldwide. One of the most comprehensive events we’ve been to in this field, the conference pulls together all the wider issues and is a great opportunity for networking and building new alliances and partnerships. Information and talks from past conferences are available online.

Find out more on the Trust Conference website.

How you can help us change the conversation

  • Talk to your friends and colleagues about the issues
  • Share our website or some of the links above on social media
  • Support our work with your prayers
  • Organise training for your organisation
  • Invite us to attend your event as a speaker or panelist

If you’d like us to provide training or attend your event, or if you have any other ideas to help us change the conversation, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Call us on 020 7370 3901
Email us at [email protected]
Use our Contact form

Our response to COVID-19

During the coronavirus crisis our priority is to continue to support the women while making sure that we all stay safe and protected during what are difficult and challenging times for so many people.

We are taking on new referrals and in regular contact with the women to address their concerns and evolving needs as the situation progresses. We are also working with colleagues to improve the broader response and access to support.

Given the health risks we are presently unable to offer face to face meetings, but will return to a full service when the emergency level is lifted. You can meanwhile contact us in the usual way and we will do our best to help.


Please visit GOV.UK for advice and guidance about Coronavirus.