‘Our children are forced to step over condoms and needles in Leeds Holbeck’s ‘managed zone’

The managed zone in Holbeck
The managed zone in Holbeck

A column on behalf of the Save Our Eyes community group, representing residents in Holbeck and Beeston.

There are several ways that the advocates and enablers of the Managed Approach (MA) to street prostitution in Leeds intentionally deceive.

From the ivory towers of privilege, the activists and academics purposely bamboozle Joe Public with endless statistics and third sector jargon which means little to the community of Holbeck and Beeston whose lives have been rudely interrupted by the carnival of sleaze creeping through their streets.

You will rarely hear ‘Community Impact’ considered by them when chalking up their MA experiment as a success because they are single-minded in justifying the march towards nation-wide decriminalisation of prostitution, including the trade in coerced, trafficked and drug-addled street prostitutes.

Daylight sex acts in public, drugged girls stepping into morning traffic to flag down punters, local females kerb crawled and male residents hassled to buy sex outside their homes.

Most alarmingly, our children are forced to step over soggy condoms and spent needles on the way to school, witnessing live sex and drug deals, late night violence and prostitutes screaming on their streets.

Local primary schools struggle to keep their grounds clear of the filthy litter tossed over the fences and the green spaces and parks a no-go zone, hiding sex waste, needles and human excrement.

The ‘experts’ will conflate the indoor and outdoor sex trade to distract from the ultimate suffering of the street prostitutes who are at the most exploited and drug addicted end of the industry.

Regardless of earning hundreds of pounds a week, residents still see girls searching through bins and picking cigarette ends from the roadside because they don’t get to keep their own money.

Their parasitic controllers take their hard-earned cash and give them dirty drugs in return to keep them sedated.

This is modern slavery in our streets, coercion and exploitation at it’s worst. There is no parallel to being a web-cammer, dominatrix, escort or lap-dancer indoors who are not addicted to hard drugs and free to decide their own destiny.

Advocates will try to convince you that it is an empowering, feminist victory to choose the career of ‘sex worker’ and they call for workers rights to legitimise it further.

We’ve never met a current or retired street prostitute who speaks about their prostitution experience in any other way than disgust, and we regularly speak to them here in Holbeck.

They expressly tell us not to call them ‘sex workers’ as they feel it is neither sex nor work, just paid rape.

Their tales of the violence and disrespect doled out daily from their arrogant punters makes us realise why being numbed with drugs and drink is the only way to cope.

Feminists arguing against misogyny, patriarchy and toxic masculinity on recent Women’s Marches need to witness the daily suffering of prostitutes in Holbeck before defending street sex as free choice.

Read any of the punter websites where they describe in detail their sordid consumption of the girls and review them like disposable objects to understand the lack of respect for their victims.

Encouraging sexual predators to pay for sex in the streets sees them cruising round residential areas, emboldened to approach any woman they find, day or night.

Most of us have been leered at or kerb crawled and asked for sex walking about our daily lives.

The debates around grid girls and hostesses having their bums pinched at parties pale into insignificance in comparison to the suffering of sex slaves being sold by their keepers and used by the men of Yorkshire and beyond to satisfy their hurried lust.

It’s vital to understand that in Leeds, we are not campaigning against a woman’s right to choose to be a sex worker.

We are campaigning against modern slavery and the impact it has on the women and the residents.

In Holbeck, the women who are prostituted on our streets day and night are victims of a cruel system.

They didn’t make a free choice to be there and they can’t see a way out. Almost all of them are addicted to drugs. Whilst they earn a lot of money they keep none of it. The money is passed straight to the drug dealers and pimps.

The “managed approach” is designed to improve the working conditions of the prostituted women but shouldn’t we be thinking bigger than that? The great British public see reports of sexual slavery overseas and are reviled by it, yet here in our own land we only try to improve the working conditions of the slaves.

We want to see the women freed, there’s no excuse to keep them in bondage. No man should have the right to buy or sell a woman’s body in 2018.

“The oldest profession” is a lazy excuse to justify its continuation, especially when child labour and animal cruelty meant young chimney sweeps and bull baiting were outlawed as barbaric and archaic as society has modernised it attitudes.

This week the Save Our Eyes team was contacted by a local resident who was abducted and raped after punters assumed she was a prostitute.

There was a similar case in 2015 when a 17-year-old girl was raped. In both cases the men escaped jail by claiming their victims were prostitutes; simply because they were abducted in areas where street prostitution occurs.

We have seen Managed Approach supporters dismiss serious crimes against locals as hoaxes and lies designed to discredit the project.

Nothing “negative” about the MA is believed.

Some local businesses have been so badly affected that they have relocated out of Holbeck taking our jobs and prospects with them.

We need to build on the work already done in Holbeck and there is a vital role to play for the charities and police in rehabilitating prostitutes and re-educating sex buyers. Vulnerable girls need protection from the coercion and grooming that starts them on the slippery slope to street prostitution and women need much more help to exit prostitution and rehabilitate.

The community must see an end to kerb crawling and the perverts roaming our streets.

It would not be allowed to flourish in more affluent areas of the city so should not be in the midst of a community with its own existing challenges.

As the parents of children in South Leeds we do not want this hideous industry to be normalised in the eyes of our kids.

None of us are raising our offspring hoping for them to become prostitutes or sex buyers so if it’s not good enough for our own, how can we tolerate others being trapped in the sex trade within our community?

Most importantly, the Save Our Eyes members are not campaigning to stop women from having the freedom to choose their own way in life, we are fighting to free our community from the grips of the sex industry.

Where there is life, there is hope.

We choose to hope for a better Leeds.

To find out more about Save Our Eyes, visit website on saveoureyes.co.uk.