This is a report from Amnesty International
(Any increase in an activity that appears on the Amnesty UK website is not desirable in this, or any, country.)
There remains dispute as to whether or not lap-dancing clubs are part of the sex industry. There is, however, clear evidence of exploitative conditions and abusive behaviour. It is important that we are all aware of these issues. Only from an infomred position can we take action to improve conditions and stop the trafficking of women into this industry.
Former stripper Kelly Holsopple carried out research in strip clubs for her report Strip clubs according to strippers: Exposing workplace sexual violence.Every woman that she interviewed had suffered verbal harassment and physical and sexual abuse while working. All were propositioned for sex and three quarters of those interviewed had been stalked by customers.
In Profitable Exploits: Lap Dancing in the UK (pdf), Julie Bindel reveals that many clubs exhibit humiliating, invasive and controlling behaviour over the dancers. Among other things, dancers reported having been told to shave their pubic hair and have breast implants. The women explained they are not allowed to refuse alcohol offered by customers, and one dancer was told not to go the gym as she was developing unattractive muscles.
In an article for the Scottish Daily Record, Stephen Rafferty revealed that police have investigated some lap dancing clubs and obtained convictions for misconduct and criminal activity including trafficking and rape. One club in Birmingham, with license conditions that did not specify any age limit, was found to be employing a 15-year-old as a dancer.
Illustration of trafficked womenAll the dancers interviewed for Strip clubs according to strippers were dissatisfied with their working conditions. The lap dancers pay a fee to dance but, because there are often too many girls employed, the only way to make money is to offer ‘private dances’. The report found there to be inadequate security for these dances and that bouncers commonly turn a blind eye to sexual activity. The spaces in which private dances take place often include bowls of condoms.
Many of the customers interviewed for Profitable Exploits said they attended lapdancing clubs to look for sex. Dancers are often denied private changing rooms and are pressured to provide sex, despite these venues claiming that is not their trade.
Effect on safety and security of women
In a study by the Lilith project for the Borough of Camden in 2002-3, where several lap-dance clubs were operating, the female rape rate was three times the national average and had increased by 50% across the year. Indecent assault increased by 58%. The director for Environmental Health in the Camden Borough said that some streets had turned into “a no-go area for female shoppers and male passers-by’.
A venue for meetings?
Global financial services firm Morgan Stanley fired four US bankers – and withheld their bonuses – for attending a strip club with clients. One CEO of another company was forced to resign after having racked up a $241,000 bill which he charged to his corporate American Express card. Several companies are now banning staff from attending such venues, or from charging these expenses. Find out more
BLOG COMMENT – A large part of the applicants’ PR is to say that they will be aiming at the corporate market – yet the corporate market are starting to move away from lap dancing as a form of entertaining clients. Looks like the owners have missed the boat on this one – again.