A short interview with a woman prostituted on the streets of Holbeck

This short and emotional interview was given to a resident in the street late in 2017.  It was originally on video and has been transcribed to protect “Carol’s” identity.

We understand that in the months after the recording was made she managed to turn her life around.  We haven’t seen “Carol” for months and hope she continues to recover.  Over the last couple of weeks we have noticed (on Twitter) that pro-managed approach campaigners try to silence some of the women who have suffered in street prostitution.  We have seen campaigners claiming that street prostitution is a proper job and that women choose to do it.  From the conversations we have had with current and former women who work the streets of Holbeck we believe that none of them chose this “job” and none of them actually want to do it.

That’s why we have decided to publish Carol’s words – they come straight from the heart.

Do you know my pimp?  Do you know how many times I get battered at night?
Do you know how many times we get raped & battered every night?
I’ve been pimped out all my life. I’ve been raped all my xxxxing life.
I’m getting raped every day to do this shit (we think she means the drugs)
You think we don’t get raped every day?  You think we don’t get beaten like xxxxing sluts?

I lost my child-like 17 year old niece to a Holbeck rapist who escaped conviction by claiming she was a prostitute

I live in the Beeston area and was close to my sister, Cheryl. Cheryl had three children, the youngest is Sally. We haven’t had much luck as a family. When Sally was just 15, her mum died. The family rallied round and Sally remained close to family members, especially her gran (my mother.) Sally has learning difficulties and eventually her social worker felt she’d be better off moving into supported accommodation. She was given a place in Harehills aged 16 where she was happy.

I suppose I should explain a little more about Sally. At the time she was attacked, in summer 2015, she was 17 and still living in Harehills. Her learning difficulties meant that she was rather child-like, more like a young 12 year old. The aim was to help build her independence. She had a bus pass and loved to travel back to Holbeck & Beeston to meet friends and family. Sally’s learning difficulties were immediately obvious to anyone who met her.

On the day she was attacked she had gone to visit a friend in Holbeck as she’d done independently many times before. Sally didn’t have a mobile phone, so she just set out on the trip hoping her friend would be in and enjoying the ride. She liked going out and having little day trips with her free disabled bus pass. Her friend wasn’t at home so Sally went back to the bus stop near City Evangelical Church and waited for the bus home. It was 2pm on a weekday afternoon. While she was waiting a man pulled his car up to the bus stop and started making small talk with her. He offered to give her a lift into Leeds instead of having to wait for the bus. Sally refused his offer but he became insistent that he wanted to give her a lift. As she would not accept he eventually got out of the car and forced her into it.

The man drove Sally to a house on Stratford Street in Beeston, not far away. He dragged her from the car into the house and raped her. After a while he went to the toilet and she ran for her life. She escaped and ran to a house opposite. The neighbours immediately tried to help and took her in. The police were called and the man was arrested. DNA evidence was obtained and the police seemed really confident they would secure a conviction. Due to the attack being so serious he wasn’t let out on bail. He stayed in prison on remand right up to the court date which I think was in October 2015.

“despite her mental age being 12, Sally was forced to testify in court”

My mother told the family that the attack had been so humiliating and degrading for Sally that it would be in Sally’s best interests if her own family were not told the full details. As a result we were asked not to even attend court. My mother went alone with Sally to court without the rest of the family.

Up to this point the proceedings had gone as well as could be expected… but a sad twist of fate meant that the court date fell after Sally’s 18th birthday. The defence forced her to appear and testify in open court, even though she had the mental age of a child. She was torn to shreds. The defence barrister argued that Sally was a prostitute and had been “waiting for business” at the bus stop. She really struggled to answer the aggressive questioning and just fell to pieces.

Even so, the police were shocked when the defendant was found not guilty. All he had to do was claim she was a prostitute and it was apparently believable because she was standing in an area where street prostitution occurs on a daily basis.

What you need to understand about the “managed approach for prostitution” is that it covers a small area of industrial Holbeck but the women & punters spread out way beyond the boundaries of the “zone.” As a result street prostitution is evident over a much larger area, including residential streets. This is why residents are campaigning for the zone to be closed.

We can’t protect the women of Holbeck and Beeston. When women are attacked the men involved can simply claim “I thought she was a prostitute!” and get away with it. Holbeck is the only area in Leeds where men can abduct and rape local women and get away with it. (Read Alice’s story here)

After the trial Sally completely lost her way in life. She got into an abusive relationship with a man and got pregnant. She desperately wanted to keep her baby but social services recommended he be adopted as Sally wasn’t mentally capable of raising a child alone. We haven’t seen her for a while now… she’s lost touch with her family.

I keep thinking about the defence barrister. To him it was just a job: keep his client out of jail no matter what. He was willing to put a rapist back onto the streets and condemn poor Sally to a life of hell. My family have lost confidence in the justice system and those who were supposed to protect us. Sally’s case is well known locally and I’ve been very vocal about it. I’m still so angry.

The residents need help and we need a solution. I don’t know what the solution is but I believe that if we prosecuted sex buyers and cleared the streets of kerb crawlers men would not be able to say “I thought she was a prostitute” in future.

Interview by Paula, Save Our Eyes Committee. This article is strictly copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.

I was abducted from a Holbeck street and raped after being mistaken for a prostitute

My name is Alice and I was once possibly just like you. I loved my work as a school teacher. I had a normal life which now seems so far away.

My story starts with my partner. He was abusive and this caused me mental health problems which became so bad that I was taken into a psychiatric hospital for my own protection and treatment.

On discharge I was homeless and I was given a place in a specialist refuge for women in Chapeltown, Leeds. I was recovering and hoped to re-build my life. I was then moved to another womens refuge in Holbeck, Leeds. As a domestic violence survivor I really struggled with the behaviour of some men in Holbeck. Although the refuge was outside the “managed zone” area there were lots of kerb crawlers in the residential streets – not just cars but men on foot. I found being approached for sex distressing and scary. I was a teacher! I have never been involved in the sex industry. I was offered money for sexual services regularly, around twice a week. Can you imagine what it’s like having to constantly explain to men that you are not a prostitute?

The other women in the refuge were all people who had suffered in life and were trying to make a recovery too. Most were really sweet and I made friends there. Many were scared too… we all had the same problem once we stepped out of the front door. Sex buyers would see us and assume we must be prostitutes because we were women walking about normally in Holbeck. There was a corner shop near the refuge. We couldn’t even get to the corner shop without being approached.

I expressed my concerns to the admins at Save Our Eyes and they gave me one of the rape alarms they had purchased. I carried it with me everywhere.

“Any woman seen walking the streets of Holbeck is a target for punters.  You don’t have to be in the “zone” to be approached by men.”

What happened in May 2018 changed everything. I went out one evening to meet a friend and we had a few drinks nearby. I wasn’t drunk. I walked back to the refuge around 11pm.  Just as I arrived a car pulled up next to me. It was the kerb crawlers as usual… this time was different though. There were 4 men in the car. They wound down the windows and started asking me to get in. They explained they wanted me to go with them to a party and it would be fun. I didn’t want to go with them but a couple of them got out of the car and took hold of me. Despite my protests they bundled me into the car. I couldn’t escape. Looking back I realise I was paralysed by it all and couldn’t believe what was happening.

They took me to a house not far away. There was no party… it was just me and them in the house. That’s when it became obvious they thought I was a prostitute. They were asking my prices for sexual services and offering me cash. I was terrified. I told them I’m not a prostitute but they didn’t believe me because they found me walking in the street in Holbeck. I have old self harm scars on my arms and they rolled up my sleeves and said the scars must be from doing drugs. I’ve never used drugs.

They attacked me and one of the men raped me. Afterwards I escaped in a panic and set off the rape alarm. I ran down the street banging on different front doors until one opened. The residents took me in and called the police.

I was examined and DNA evidence obtained. The police found my attacker and he was charged then bailed. I was never even told his name.

I was devastated when the police told me they were not pursuing the case. All he had to do to get away with abduction and rape was claim that I was a prostitute. They said it was my word against his and not worth taking the case to court. The refuge has a security camera outside but it wasn’t working so the evidence of my abduction was never available.

I’m speaking out because the authorities are housing vulnerable women in Holbeck where they are not safe. I wasn’t safe right outside the front door of a women’s refuge. We are told that the managed approach for prostitution is supposed to make women safer but in reality it does not. It puts women at risk because perverts and rapists are drawn to the area and made much bolder by the policy.

So what does the future hold for me?  Who knows… I’m left not even 30 years old with a broken heart and a broken life. I’ve moved away from Leeds now. I couldn’t feel safe there as I was not told the identity of my attackers and they will never be brought to justice.

I want justice and understanding. Vulnerable women need help. Housing us in Holbeck surrounded by perverts is not acceptable. I have to live with the consequences of the failure of the “managed approach” and I want people to understand what is really going on.

I have asked for my identity to be concealed but I still want my voice to be heard.

“If all European countries would see prostitution for what it really is, that it is part of men’s violence against women and a form of modern slavery, we would have a much better chance of fighting this crime.”
Simon Häggström, Swedish Detective Inspector, Prostitution Unit
Strictly copyright Save Our Eyes 2018.  Alice was interviewed by SOE committee member, Paula.  This interview has now been covered by The Telegraph here   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/25/teacher-living-next-legal-red-light-district-raped-man-believed/

How the managed approach to prostitution affects children in Leeds

How the managed approach to prostitution affects children in Leeds

Watch our video above!

All parents are cautious when it comes to the welfare of their children.  However, the parents of Holbeck and Beeston in Leeds have a very different level of awareness of the risks.
Here in Leeds, just going to the park or local play area needs to be carefully supervised due to the discarded needles, condoms and sex industry litter.

Prostituted women can be seen stepping into the road to try and flag down motorists and even having sex in the local phone box.  All of this during the day when children are watching.

Read the words of some local parents below as we look at how prostitution affects children in Leeds…

“I don’t let my oldest (11 years old) play out. He’s a sweet, sensible lad, but I wouldn’t want to risk him accidentally touching a used needle or condom. I also don’t want him to witness seeing a prostitute looking for business, or one staggering around either drunk or high on drugs. These kind of situations are always a risk, if I’m there or not, however if I am there, I know how to deal with these situations, an 11 year old would not, and should not know how to deal with this. So everywhere he goes, I’m always there with him, and I’m genuinely afraid of not being there.

When I visit family in different parts of leeds, I feel much more comfortable letting him be outside, playing with friends etc. But in this part of leeds, he sadly is missing out on this part of childhood.
We used to walk to school, but unfortunately witnessed countless girls being picked up and dropped off, so we now drive to school every day, simply because I don’t think children should have to witness this kind of thing in their day to day lives.”

“I have had to explain to two 6 year olds about prostitutes. How does one explain to their primary school aged children about these women selling their bodies? We also can’t use the park because of all the needles and other paraphernalia strewn about.

We have no other option but to walk and I am constantly on my guard. They’ve also witnessed people openly taking drugs on the benches while walking home from school. This is not a life that any child should have to face.”

“We are constantly seeing condoms, wrappers and some needles whilst out and about and I don’t let him run around as much unless I have checked the surrounding area! He is 4, he should be able to run where he wants and not worry about coming across things like this.  Also we see prostitutes around his school at various times of the day and around the local area, he’s now noticing them more and asks why they don’t have clothes on or why they are trying to stop cars!”

“I appreciate that my experiences are nowhere near the same magnitude as the local residents but my experiences just show how it affects the wider areas also. I’m in Beeston but I travel with my kids through Holbeck on a near daily basis. I have to tell my girls we cannot visit the park they are so desperate to play on… that the women trying to flag my car down don’t need help… that the women are dressed the way they are because they are going to a party. I am constantly lying to them to protect their innocence and being the “bad guy” for saying that they can’t play on the park. I hate it and mine are minors I really don’t know how residents cope with it all so close to home.”

“My granddaughter was approached at 3:15pm in the afternoon in her school uniform by a punter looking for sex.”

“My daughter doesnt play out. She has been called names and even had a death threat. ( the police were informed) I’m scared to walk my dog as I have had the pimps have a go at me coz im putting customers off.  I have had to explain to my daughter about things she shouldnt know about. Im quite lucky now as I dont get that much. However the school she attends has had to put a mesh fence up as they were finding needles and human waste and condoms on the school field. She has to walk under the fly over and there is always all sorts about. I dont go to the park anymore. Why would you? Its awful. I dont use any local shops, I would rather drive somewhere else or go without as I dont want to be anywhere near that side of the park. Its gutting to see what’s happened over the years to Holbeck.”

“My daughter was followed home from school by a man making rude comments and trying to touch her. She is now 18 and has been approached after going to the cash machine at Kasa and asked for money by one of the women. She may be 18 and now works part time but I no longer want her to walk home after work and we now pay for taxis.”

“A group of children playing out after school saw a couple having sex in the phone box!”

“I won’t use the park with my 2 children.  I worry setting off at 7.30 on a morning walking the streets with my 2 kids.  We see girls with practically nothing on drinking strong lager and flagging cars down while we’re stood waiting for a bus on a school morning. I use the bus stop that has most CCTV surrounding it as I don’t feel safe stood at others. We see condoms, packets of lube & needles on a daily basis.  I don’t even let my 8 year old play in my fenced garden because of the vulgar behaviour by some of the girls out side my local shop. I actually hate living in holbeck and when summer comes around I think it gets worse. Men scouting the area looking for working girls… I won’t wear my shorts or a skirt in fear I’ll be mistaken for a working girl!”

“My 16 year old son just told me that today whilst walking home from school, he was asked if he wanted business by a prostitute outside the kings arms. Because he said no thanks she decided take the piss out of him and tell him she’s “shagged his grandad”

“My son sees things he shouldn’t & just thinks they’re normal now”

Prostitution affects children in Leeds.  Do you feel this is acceptable?  Add your own experiences of living near the “managed approach for prostitution” in the comments section below…