The charges against Sheila Farmer have been dropped!
Ms Farmer’s trial was thrown out because of police and prosecution incompetence – witnesses had not been asked to attend court and a key witness could not be found. Ms Farmer has attended court six times and the case has been listed to start on two previous occasions. (from a statement by the English Collective of Prostitutes).
Sheila has written in the Guardian today: Life is hard enough for prostitutes without our work being criminalised
“It’s enough for two prostitutes to live or work together for us to be illegal. I worked alone. Within months, I was attacked, raped repeatedly, tied up, held hostage, and nearly strangled. I gave evidence against my attacker but he got off. I suffered years of nightmares and panic attacks and decided never to work alone again. Using my prostitution earnings I trained for five years to become a counsellor, only to have my chances of getting a job scuppered by a CRB check exposing my prostitution.
By this time I was working with friends because it was safer. That’s when I suffered my second major attack. We were robbed at gunpoint by a gang who had targeted hundreds of flats in the south of England. Most victims would not go to the police for fear of being prosecuted. Despite threats to my life and my flat being petrol bombed, I gave evidence and was commended by the judge for my bravery.
We moved to another flat and within a few months were raided. I was arrested and charged with brothel-keeping. I decided to fight the case as my tumour is now malignant and my time is running out. Who has a right to judge me?”
This amazing victory is due to the work of the English Collective of Prostitutes, who continue to campaign tirelessly for the welfare and safety of women like Sheila. Thank you so much to everyone who supported her, even if it was just to read about her case. A little public scrutiny makes a huge difference, meaning that unjust prosecutions like this one cannot go through. We ask that you continue to support the English Collective of Prostitutes in their work. You can do so by signing their petition to decriminalise sex work and prioritise safety.
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Sheila Farmer's prosecution dropped
Photos: Tom Radenz and Claire Butler