Dear Mary

You and I may sit on opposite sides of the political fence, but we are both members of the European Parliament’s gender equality committee.

I am happy when we can work together to promote a realistic approach to tackling the challenges which women face in the UK and across Europe. But your latest proposals on EU rules for prostitution really go too far.

By conflating sex workers and victims of human trafficking you make it difficult to help those who have been forced into the sex trade while failing to create a safe environment for those who choose to work as prostitutes.

I don’t agree with the feminist conceit that women can’t choose to be prostitutes. I’m as unhappy as you are that some women decide to sell their bodies, but, unlike you, I realise that cracking down on prostitution is not going to eradicate the trade, it will merely obscure it.

And by driving the trade further underground it means that prostitutes’ lives will become more dangerous. They are more likely to be victims of violence or to be at greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

If you don’t take my word for this, perhaps you’ll  take that of La Strada International, a major NGO addressing the trafficking of persons in Europe, who, along with over 500 organisations, wrote to MEPs asking them to vote against your suggestions.

Or perhaps you would agree with the World Health Organisation which has said that the kind of restrictions you propose would limit sex workers’ access to condoms and other measures to prevent HIV.

I’m putting forward an alternative resolution to your proposals which will not only address the important issues such as human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children, but will also create a safe environment for those sex workers who have chosen their path. I’ve worked with MEPs from across the political spectrum because I believe that this issue is too important to get wrong

And you have got it wrong. You’ve been driven by fervour, not the facts and you’ve put feminism before females.

I appeal to you: Drop your flawed plans and let’s co-operate to back the cross-party resolution I’ve co-sponsored. That way we can protect all women in the sex industry, whether they are there by choice or by coercion.

All my best,