Monday, November 13, 2006

Consultation Response – Draft Mandatory Regulations on Adult Entertainment in Scotland


"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

C. S. Lewis

Context

In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women in Britain who wanted to pussue an acting career were labelled as prostitutes. In Scotland in the twenty-first century it is depressing and opressive to see the same myth being used to disproportionately limit the freedoms of dancers who choose to perform erotic entertainment for consenting adults in safe venues. Whilst I do not think that the Executive’s position is total abolition of AE, certain Local Authorities are ideologically opposed to it and will interpret and use these regulations to try to strangle the industry to death. People have fought long and hard to be able to read and watch what they choose in our democracy. Government should not be interfering with those freedoms without a very good reason. Ideology and disapproval are not good enough reasons. The proposed interference also engages and very probably breaches our Human Rights under Articles 2, 8, 10 & 14 of ECHR. Parliament should be very sure that these regulations are made in a way that meets its obligations to safeguard our fundamental rights.

It is also very ironic that Scottish Executive ministers and senior opposition politicians were lining up during October 2006 to defend womens’ rights to choose to dress and act as they wanted to mark their faith. It seems that the message in Scotland that a woman has the right to choose how she dresses and behaves, but only as long as government at all levels approves of their choices. How patronising, with the emphasis on "patron".

The AEWG research process and report did not find, far less prove, anything like a good reason for this censorship and disproportionate interference with dancers’ rights. The only evidence found was an academically and ethically discredited report commissioned and paid for by an ideologically opposed council and information from a U.S. based evangelical christian website. It is the worst and least reliable form of grey literature & is no basis for making regulations. All of the other research, including all of the research commissioned by the AEWG, was at worst inconclusive and at best actively supportive of Adult Entertainment.

The reason given for making these regulations is to prevent prostitution. It is worth re-stating that there is no prostitution or trafficking in the Scottish Adult entertainment industry as it is. No dancer has ever been prosecuted, far less convicted, for any offence. The Executive is regulating a non-existent risk. Adult entertainment performers in Scotlland are entertainers and performance artists, they are not prostitutes and they do not sell sex. A fully nude private lapdance is not a sexual service. The fact that the entertainment they provide is erotic and sensual is irrelevant. There are far more explicit forms of entertainment available at less cost on our television screens, in our cinemas, and on the internet.

Effect of the Draft Regulations

Taken together, regulations 11, 12(4) and 14(3) will effectively ban the private lapdance in Scotland. The regulations are also silent on the question of whether or not full nudity is to be permitted. I assume this silence means that local authorities will have the discretion to decide as per the AEWG report. Since some are already being petty enough to try to enforce partial nudity, the regulations will also mean that nude dancing in of any discipline, including lapdancing, full striptease and nude poledancing will be effectively banned by stealth.

I have warned in previous consultations and in my response to the AEWG report what the negative effects and unintended consequences of these specific provisions will be. Some of it is already happening in anticipation of these regulations becoming law. There are now web-based agencies operating in Scotland offering "home delivery" lapdancers.

For the record they are:
  • There is a global demand for private, fully nude lapdances, and dancers who make a good living or second income supplying that demand. The Executive cannot uninvent the lapdance. If fully nude, private lapdancing is banned from our clubs, it will just move to unlicensed venues like hotel rooms, private homes and parties. Dancers will be killed or seriously sexually assaulted when this happens as a direct result of these provisions. It’s inevitable, it’s just a question of where and when. I hope Tom McCabe feels up to defending these regulations in court when the victim or, god forbid, her relatives sue Scottish Ministers and local authorities for damages.
    Dancers incomes will be drastically cut by these provisions. The fully nude private lapdance is the central product in any proftable strip club. A dancer makes most of her money from private dances. The danger this introduces is that some full time dancers will be forced into escorting and prostitution, or into pornography to make up for the loss of earnings. These provisions are a perverse incentive for escort agencies and will create the harm that they pretend to prevent.
  • Adult Entertainment will become a de-skilled, low-waged, robotic and unattractive way of earning money. The experienced, skilled dancers will diversify or leave Scotland altogether. This is not only a waste of intelligent, talented people but it will also create an opportunity for the gangmasters to supply trafficked dancers who are willing to work for little or no money and who will be tempted to provide sex outside the clubs to make up the difference. The demand will not vanish because it is regulated, it will just change into a sleazy paradise for organised criminals.
  • Scotland’s AE sector will deteriorate markedly in its contribution and significance to inward investment. The AEWG commissioned an Economic Impact survey that expressly said that successful international cities needed a functioning AE sector. Shame that the Local Authorities who have driven this policy from the start, and the developers who negotiate with them, do not recognise this reality and help the sector grow properly and safely rather than seeking to kill it. The economic cost of these regulations will be bigger than you think or have the tools to measure.



Consultation Question at Regulation 14(4)

(4) [Consultation question: We would particularly welcome views from performers, club operators, Licensing Boards and others, on whether there is a need for these Regulations to specify the types of activity that may/ may not be performed as part of adult entertainment. Recommendation 3 of the Adult Entertainment Working Group Report refers.]


If this additional provision is introduced it will further exacerbate the harms described above, and further aggravate any breach of Articles 8 & 10. It is unnecessary and disproportionate. It will also be impossible to frame a meaningful or enforceable provision of this nature. The range of what human beings of both genders find erotic is massive. This provision would need to be the length of an encyclopaedia to be comprehensive.


As one small example – many men find women’s feet and painted toenails more erotic than any other part of her body. Is it intended that dancers should be prohibited from wearing nail polish on their toes or prohibited form wearing open toed shoes? I could name a hundred others, but one is enough to make the point. The idea that you can make a meaningful provision is deeply silly, and panders to those whose opposition is ideological, not evidence based.



Conclusion


Most of the draft regulations are reasonable, some of them will actually improve dancers’ working conditions and for that we thank you. Please reconsider and remove regulations 11, 12(4) and 14(3). If you do not, you are likely to breach our human rights and may even have the sexualised murder of one of us on your collective conscience. Use your powers wisely – help the adult entertainment industry to grow safely and continue its contribution to Scotland’s growth. Do not unnecessarily censor what adults in Scotland are allowed to see or what performers are allowed to do. We are all consenting adults, we need your understanding, tolerance and assistance – not labelling, misplaced sympathy or judgement. Don’t confuse your disapproval of what we choose to do with the common good. You are not infallible.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Darlings, Sweetpeas and Superstars,

After four long months of pondering, the Scottish Executive have issued a response to the AEWG report.

As all of you regular visitors will remember, the report was issued at the beginning of May, and is available to read with the help of one magical click on the link on the right hand side - as is a reply that I issued to those concerned.

The response has been issued as a fresh consultation on a series of draft mandatory regulations. The fact that the consultation was issued during a parliamentary recess and buried in a wider consultation about the new licensing act is deliciously amusing. Jo " good day to bury bad news" Moore would have her little heart swell with pride to see a lesson so well heeded by Tom McCabe's special advisers.

Due to my current running around the country like a crazy woman I have still to finalise a full response to the consultation, but with a bit of luck it will be ready in a couple of weeks, when I shall endeavour to make it available on this site. The Executive most likely won't be publishing until after their two-week Christmas Holidays.
I have to admit that my first thoughts are that the regulations are mostly reasonable, except that they contain two ideologically driven draft regulations that will have the serious potential to get dancers killed or seriously sexually assaulted.

The first is that they propose an absolute ban on private dance spaces - there is a global cultural and economic demand for private fully nude lapdances and dancers who make a decent living and enjoy supplying that demand. If this ban is enforced, private dancing will migrate to unsafe venues like hotel rooms, private parties and people's houses, with the inevitable results. It only takes one nutter who hates or fears women, to act in an environment that lacks the current working precautions that dancers and venues alike put into place. Good capitalists like first mover advantage, and there are already two agencies trying to recruit "home delivery" dancers in Edinburgh, in anticipation of these regulations coming into force. Our livelihoods will be threatened by this ban & some will be tempted into unsafe practice or driven into the sex industry proper.

The second is the specification that there should be no physical contact at all between customer and dancer - the small-minded implication being that physical contact must inevitably lead to sex. This must be revised to the existing, functioning, universal practice that customers are not allowed to touch dancers, but dancers are free to use customers as part of the dance space to execute precision dance moves."

I've put the consultation links onto the list on the side. If you feel that it is to help protect us from harm and you believe that adults can be trusted, and you object strongly to censorship, please take a few moments to fill in the consultation and return it to the Executive - The consultation period closes on 8th December, but do it now while I have your attention - you can request that your name and address is kept confidential. It is really important that we have a proper, accessible democratic debate about this. So far our national politicians have uttered not a word!"

Please remember, lapdancers are not prostitutes and lapdancing is not a crime (unless the censors get their way). We provide erotica, we don't sell sex.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Information for Edinburgh


Hello Darlings,

For those of you working, living or just visiting in the National Capital the IUSW have kindly found a copy of the policy on Adult Entertainment for the City Council. I think it is well worth a browse.

Cover Letter.

The City of Edinburgh Council Policy.

Just in case you were still in the dark on the proposed policy of the City of Edinburgh Council to obliterate anything other than a Disneyland version of a city complete with strong financial incentives for those involved new developments I have below a link to the Edinburgh Evening News article explaining a little about the situation.

Edinburgh Evening News: 21st July 2006.

Ever yours, but with a heavy heart...

Veronica, xxx

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Paul Stokes Blog

It has come to my attention that Paul Stokes of Scotland on Sunday fame has his own blog now I would heartily recommend a perusal of his pages, you will find both news and a delightful wit within.

V, x

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Well Hello There...


Well it has been a long time since I have written anything for the blog. I saw another news article that I clicked with, I have the link here for you all to see. it would appear that everything has gone quiet at the moment on the news and events front but I am assuming that this means that the Scottish Executive are simply putting their plans into effect without revealing anything to the meddlesome public. For now though try to live for the moment and for all of you in Edinburgh, enjoy festival time, I hear it is starting to hot up over there!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

BBC Radio Scotland

Well ladies and gentlemen, we have managed to get on the radio today, I have to admit that I do get a little kick out of the exposure that the issue gets.

However I wanted to say a big thank you for all the hard work and well done to all involved in supporting dancers in the BBC Radio Scotland discussion.

You can listen to it here but I am not sure how long it stays on the BBC database so you might have to go through the "missed a programme?" section at the top right hand corner and choose Tuesday’s (23.05.06) edition of "Scotland Live".

Sunday, May 21, 2006

'If God had a stag night, he’d probably have it in Edinburgh.'

I feel like I should be running around scanning in the newspaper articles linking to other web pages etc. but I came across this quote on this webpage and thought it was worth sharing for the Edinburgh based Ladies and Gentlemen:

Chances Of Shaming Yourself

The Grass market is stag heaven with cobblestones. Guinness galore, chasers, real pubs with real people; the kind of place where groups of welsh rugby fans can bring into close harmony singing without anyone batting an eyelid. It’s impossible to feel remotely self-conscious here, a world away from the plastic dross that many city-centres have based their drinking around in the last five years. If God had a stag night, he’d probably have it in Edinburgh.

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