Harriet Harman urges Arnold Schwarzenneger to 'terminate' prostitute website

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman called on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today to shut down an American website that allows British men who use prostitutes to rate their experiences.

During her speech at the Labour Party Conference she called on the former Hollywood strongman to close down the site which is hosted in his state but is filled with information on British sex workers.



Harman described the site as “sinister” and “truly degrading”. But tonight at least one organisation which campaigns for the decriminalisation of prostitution said announcement was simply an extension of the equalities minister’s “moral crusade” against sex workers.



Challenging Mr Schwarzenegger to close the site, Ms Harman said: "There is now a website ... where pimps put women on sale for sex and then men who've had sex with them put their comments on line. It is PunterNet and fuels the demand for prostitutes. It is the ultimate commodification of women and puts women at risk. It is truly degrading."



The Labour deputy leader, who in 2007 said she wanted to make it illegal for men to pay for sex, said she had raised the issue with the American ambassador but was now calling on Mr Schwarzenegger to intervene.



“Surely it can't be too difficult for The Terminator to terminate PunterNet and that's what I'm demanding he does,” she said. “And if he doesn't, I've got a message for Arnie: I'll be back."



But Carrie Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes dismissed the calls. “Anything that forces sex work underground will only make it more dangerous for ordinary women who sell sex. Once again, instead of prioritising dealing with rape and other violence, Harman is prioritising censorship and repression. It is women trying to support families in the recession who will be first to suffer."



There was no response from Punter Net’s webmaster last night who describes his site as an “online community for patrons and providers of adult personal services in the UK”. But a statement on the website says punters are encouraged to report any sex worker who may be working against her will: “This webmaster will cooperate fully with the authorities in any matter regarding under-age persons or those forced to work against their will,” the statement reads.

The site is used by thousands of people who visit sex workers and then rate their experiences. While many of the comments centre on the sexual services or derogatory comments, a number of clients also use the site to warn each other about how clean and safe various brothels and massage parlous are. There is also a discussion forum created by sex workers to warn each other about potentially abusive clients.

After receiving a warm applause for her call to close the site down the equalities minister also launched a scathing attack on the Sun newspaper for switching to the Tories after twelve years of supporting Labour. “I am speaking to you this morning about something the Sun knows absolutely nothing about: equality,” she said. “The nearest their political analysis gets to women's rights is Page 3's News in Briefs. We are all angry about the Sun this morning but I say to you: don't get bitter, get better.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea