£8,000 – the price of Portsmouth’s women

Women are not objects

RESULT: 13/2/2012  Great news – the Leader of PCC has confirmed that the nil cap on SEVs has not – and will not – be overturned! Read more here.

There is a terrible irony to be found in the fact that yesterday, as Rupert Murdoch tweeted he was considering an end to the exploitation of young women, the Cabinet of Portsmouth City Council were busy putting a price on women in Portsmouth.

Their final offer on women’s worth? £8,000 per year.

We’re referring to a proposal in this year’s budget which, if successful, will overturn the ‘nil cap‘ on new lap dancing clubs in Portsmouth – a decision made in October 2012 following a lengthy consultation with local residents, community groups, businesses and frontline services like ours.

The nil cap was introduced as part of Portsmouth City Council’s Sexual Entertainment Venue policy, which states that “there is no place within the City of Portsmouth of which it could be said that it was situated in a locality in which it would be appropriate to licence a sex establishment.”

The democratic process allowed a month for a consultation which drew over 3000 responses in total, with the majority of responses being against the introduction of a nil cap. The day of the decision meeting drew extensive deputations from both sides, and the Council voted in favour of the nil cap as long as the existing clubs in the city were exempt from it.

From the perspective of bystanders, this might have seemed the ideal compromise: we’re not closing down the existing clubs, but we’re unlikely to licence any more.

Which only serves to make it even more confusing that – apparently without any consultation – officers decided to put forward the idea of reversing the nil cap in the proposed budget, in budget measure F-079 proposing to: “increase the number of approved sex establishment licenses”.

The money estimated to be made from this process?

£8,000 per year.

In case this seems like a storm in a tea cup to you, let's be clear as to why Aurora New Dawn is in favour of the nil cap. We work, every day, with the end of result of socially entrenched sexism, namely the victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In the national and international women's sector of which we are part, there is no doubt that the sexual objectification of women - as practiced in both page 3 and lapdancing clubs - is directly linked to the incidence of sexual and domestic violence. This is not a matter of opinion or conjecture. The link between the objectification of women and discrimination and violence towards women is recognised at an international level by the legally binding United Nations Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which has repeatedly called upon states - including the UK - to take action against the objectification of women. We believe that one day, the world will look back on the routine custom of objectifying and commodifying women as a bizarre and fundamentally inhumane practice - just as we currently look back at the slave trade or the practice of sending children up chimneys. Yesterday, it looked as if Rupert Murdoch was starting to view page 3 in the same light. We hope it won't be long until Portsmouth City Council catches up with him. Read our letter to the Cabinet here: SEV Budget measure F-079 - letter to Cabinet