Today we remember Daria Pionko, a 23 year old sex worker who was murdered last year in Leeds. Our thoughts today are particularly with her family and friends both here in the UK and in Poland. As an organisation we work hard to keep sexworkers safer ,and support them to report violence they may have experienced and to address any consequences of such violence. The managed approach to sexwork taken by Safer Leeds is a key aspect of this. The managed approach allows the women to have a better, supportive relationship with the police, resulting in greater reporting of crimes committed against them and increasing the likelihood they seek support from agencies like ourselves. Daria was the 4th sexworker to be murdered in Leeds since 1990. The other three were murdered under a policy of criminalisation of sex workers and buyers. Daria was a migrant sex worker. Of 18 UK sex workers murdered since 2013, more than half have been migrant women, indicating a targeting of vulnerability exacerbated by criminalisation and stigmatisation.
As we did on 17th December 2016, the International Day to End Violence against Sexworkers, we reiterate our strong condemnation of violence against sexworkers. Ending violence also means access to a fair criminal justice system that does not discriminate and an end to stigma, which makes sexworkers more vulnerable to violence. Whether working on the street or indoors, whether you are from the UK or a migrant woman, every sexwoker has the right to do work in safety.
On behalf of Trustees and staff,
CEO Basis Yorkshire