Just weeks before the council will decide whether to prohibit strip clubs, the outcome of a public survey on Bristol’s nightclubs have demonstrated strong support for keeping them open.Results of the city’s second public consultation on strip clubs in three years were made public last Friday, and they revealed that 86% of respondents opposed a “nil-cap” policy that would have prohibited strip clubs from operating in the city center.
Only 14 percent of the 6,271 respondents who gave their opinions agreed with it. In the previous public survey, which was conducted three years ago, 1,430 people expressed support for strip clubs in a crowded late-night commercial district, with 65% of them saying so. Due to Bristol Sex Workers Collective’s organization and opposition to the ban, there has been a huge rise in involvement and support, which highlights how the problem has gained greater attention in the following years.
The effect the prohibition would have on a workforce that is predominately female, forcing them to leave their jobs or seek employment in less regulated industries, is a major argument against the ban. While some in favor of the ban claim that strip clubs perpetuate sexism and gender inequality by maintaining male entitlement to women’s bodies.
Bristol Sex Workers Collective’s representative stated, “We are very thankful of the support we’ve got over the course of our campaign against the nil-cap, and especially the tremendous amount of replies to the consultation” (BSWC). They continued by stating that it was surprising that 86% of respondents had paid attention to them as employees and “understood that we deserve access to safe workplaces and conditions.”
A representative from the Bristol Women’s Commission, who support the ban, stated: “Strip clubs transmit obvious messages to young boys that they are entitled to access women’s bodies and clear messages to girls that their value resides in their bodies and how they perform for men. That has a long-term, continuous effect on society. Although the immediate effects on those who work in the clubs can be reduced, the long-term effects are significant.”
Years of discord reach a boiling point
Bristol residents have been divided over the issue of strip clubs for years, but on July 28 the council’s licensing committee will make a final decision over whether to adopt a general ban known as “nil-cap.” If Bristol chooses to adopt the ban, it would be following in the path of Edinburgh, a city of a comparable size where the council chose to outlaw strip clubs in April. The BSWC spokeswoman added “All we want is to be safe while we work and access the safeguards a legal workplace offers. There is no reliable data to claim that the new policy will lower violence against women.”
Because there are not many other acceptable possibilities, sex workers frequently claim that strip clubs provide flexible, well-paying work. The Commission disputes this as well, pointing out how the epidemic encouraged more flexible employment arrangements.
Strip clubs in Edinburgh are closing
The same divided problem is being faced by authorities elsewhere. In April of this year, Edinburgh council members narrowly approved a ban on strip clubs, but the union United Sex Workers is now seeking a judicial review of the decision, arguing that it breaches the 2010 Equality Act since it closes down establishments with a majority of female employees. The Bristol Sex Workers Collective spokeswoman stated that “strippers’ safe workplaces are subject to repeated threats of closure across the UK, adding that Edinburgh’s decision was made despite workers’ warnings about poverty and unsafe, clandestine jobs.
Nevertheless, court evaluations may also be used to the advantage of individuals opposed to strip clubs. When Sheffield City Council extended the license of the city’s Spearmint Rhino branch in 2018, it was discovered that they had not taken into account the larger impact on the community. Following the legal action taken by advocates for equality, the club was forced to shut and lose its license.
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