A FEMINIST organisation has launched a campaign against the Leeds lap dancing clubs that are preparing to fight for their survival.
Six of the city’s strip venues have applied to Leeds City Council to renew their sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licences.
Silks, Deep Blue, Purple Door, Liberty, Red Leopard and Wildcats face a battle to retain their right to operate after the council introduced a policy that says there should be a maximum of four such clubs in the city centre.
Now, ahead of licensing hearings that are expected to take place next month, the rape crisis charity Support Against Rape and Sexual Violence is attempting to rally support behind its objections to the industry.
Development co-ordinator Catriona Palin said there was a link between crime and sex establishments – and that they tended to have a damaging impact on women.
She said: “Leeds is a diverse city with a variety of cultures and faiths, representing around 11 per cent of the city. Women from a range of communities are intimidated by the proximity of these clubs.
“Research has shown that wherever lap-dance and strip clubs appear, women’s quality of life deteriorates as a result, with increased reports of rape.
“These establishments license the objectification of women for money. This actively damages women and girls living and working around lap-dancing clubs as well as the women working within them.”
The charity has formally objected to the renewal of all the clubs’ licences – and is calling on others to do the same.
The council’s new policy came into force last month after a survey of the Citizens Panel found a majority of people supported a reduction in the number of clubs.
The policy said: “SEVs are not in accordance with a culturally rich and diverse city.”
Club operators are keeping their counsel and have declined to comment before next month’s hearings, which are all due to take place within a week.