An organisation called United Voices of the World has this week alleged that the Women’s Equality Party conducted an undercover investigation into sexual entertainment venues across Manchester and Sheffield. This is simply not true: we have at no point commissioned or conducted any such investigation.
We first learned about the investigation when an organisation called Not Buying It released a summary of the findings, and our local activists have since referred to this evidence in their representations to local authorities, always making clear this was not our investigation.
The Women’s Equality Party is campaigning for a more equal world so that all may thrive. Chief among our aims is ending all forms of violence against women and girls. As part of this our activists are campaigning for local authorities to adopt a policy to limit the number of sexual entertainment venues to nil - because many of them offer little or no employment protections for the women who work in them and because they contribute to a culture where men feel entitled to women’s bodies. We do this by raising awareness of the inequalities driven by sexual entertainment venues and the obligations of local authorities under the Equality Act, and never in ways that infringe on the rights of women who work there.
Two thirds of young women aged 14 to 21 have been sexually harassed in a public place. Rape Crisis estimates an average of 10 women an hour are raped in England and Wales. Research by Eaves Housing into the effects of licensing, as updated by the Metropolitan police, found that in the three years after four sexual entertainment venues opened in one local authority, incidents of rape increased by 33% and sexual assaults by 55%. They also found increased levels of harassment of women in the surrounding area. In the age of #MeToo, where we understand more and more the extent of sexual violence and harassment women experience on a day to day basis, granting licenses to sexual entertainment venues is not only unjustifiable, it contravenes local authorities’ Public Sector Equality Duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
We want all women to have choices, which is why in addition to campaigning for a nil cap on sexual entertainment venues, we also campaign to end the austerity that has punished women the most, and to invest in social infrastructure to support all women.