The Truth About Lap Dancing
More about Lap Dancing
Strip Clubs are part of the organised sex trade and as with the rest of this industry, the women working in it are typically treated very poorly - exploited both in terms of uncertain pay, no employment rights and high levels of sexual abuse.
Clubs also create 'no go' zones in their vicinty - where women feel, and frequently are, intimidated and harassed. And the industry promotes unacceptable 'President Club' style attitudes in wider sociey. After all, how can it ever be 'Times Up' when men can buy women?
In otherwords, the industry provides a harmful and frequently dangerous environment for young women to work in and promotes deeply damagaing attitudes towards all women.
Find out more about strip clubs & read testimonies from performers on our publications page.
How Strip Clubs are Licensed
Between 2005 and 2010, strip clubs were simply licensed as leisure venues like a cafe and the industry mushroomed uncontrollably. A high profile campaign by pressure group Object and The Fawcett Society led to a change in the law (despite industry reps swearing in the press, and even to Parliament, that lap dancing 'wasn't sexual'; that regulation was a breach of club owners' human rights and its advocates framing it as a 'moral crusade').
But from 2011 new legislation was introduced which meant that Councils could license clubs as 'Sexual Entertainment Venues' (or SEVs). Most adopted this licensing. This finally gave Councils the power to consider local opinion, the suitability of the local enviornment and equality issues. It gave them sweeping powers to refuse to license new clubs or to relicense existing clubs and meant they could even set a policy that no clubs should be licensed at all (a 'nil policy').
However, through a process of apathy, ignorance, bias and fear of the hugely powerful strip industry, many Councils are not properly enforcing their licensing rights - or responsibliites. They are still not listening to local people, still not doing what is best for the local communituy, still not considering the impact of the industry on women's safety, let alone equality, and continue to license and re-license strip clubs, even in blatantly inappropriate locations (like residential areas, near schools or even women's shelters).
Strip Clubs - Anti-Equalities Law
A ground breaking precedent has now been set with not one but two successful legal challenges against Sheffield City Council. This highlights how all Councils are likely to be breaching equality law when licensing the strip industry.
Legally councils have a duty to act to eliminate harassment, discrimination and victimisation and to promote good relations between the sexes in all of its policies and licensing decisions. Yet this is the very definition of lap dancing and the culture it creates. Academic studies, countless testimonies from lap dancers and undercover journalists reveal the sexual contact, harassment, assaults, intimidation and coercion that is rife within clubs. Over 2 dozen press reports have now exposed how the new licensing simply doesn't work, with sexual contact to prostitution; assaults to class A drugs and drink spiking as the norm.
In fact as the lawyer acting in these two cases remarked:
And it is not just about the young women in the industry. Women also feel - and often are - unsafe, harassed and victimised in their vicinity.
And it is about the attitudes strip clubs perpetuate in wider society. International treaties alongside countless studies have recognised for years that objectification and the porn/sex trade contribute to harmful attitudes in wider society. After all, isn't a nonsense to be *shocked* by The President's Club in a society that legitimises and glorifies strip clubs, where much worse happens?
UK Strip Industry .. coming soon
we are working on a UK map of local council policies and their clubs. Contact us if you'd like to help research this!
Please feel free to send us news of strip clubs and their relicensing in your area.
Two clubs allowed to continue operating despite mass objection over years, including by MPs and police. Entire licensing policy currently being reviewed.
Leeds City Council's own policy states that, because of equality considerations, no clubs are appropriate anywhere in the borough. But within the same policy it then states 4 are appropriate in the city centre! There are currently 5. The Council has already been in court, to reduce club levels from 7. We urge it to stop licensing all the others (whilst supporting performers out of the industry). Leeds is also the only place in the UK that has introduced a prostitution 'tolerance zone' with disastrous consequences for local people and those in prostitution, including a murder of a woman in prostitution and a murder of a teacher because a punter 'thought she was a prostitute'.
Lap dancing club deemed totally inappropriate and closed months after opening when a decision on its licensing could only be made retrospectively: Liverpool Echo
New application refused, town currently has 2.
Sheffield continues to license its one strip club, Spearmint Rhino, with private booths in a residential area next door to student accommodation despite having conceded 2 court cases that it has breached equality law and wrongfully dismissed objections over its licensing of strip clubs. Because of this it now has to review its entire licensing policy (currenlty set for 'no limit' on the number of clubs)... watch this space!
Is about to adopt exactly the same legislation as we already have in England and Wales, with all the same flaws.
Please see our pages here for a table of London Councils and their policies and for info on key areas.