Letter: Girls for sale

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The Independent Online
The decision of the Magistrates Association to recommend the decriminalisation of child prostitution is a big step forward ("I didn't even know what a condom was for", 12 October). But indiscriminate prosecution opens the way for indiscriminate repression. Pimps and rapists who attack children and women not only on the streets, but in the home and in care where most violence takes place, are least likely to be arrested and prosecuted. Kerb-crawlers are an easier and cheaper target.

Benefits and other resources are crucial to enable young people to escape violence and refuse prostitution. But Labour's back-to-work programme continues the Tory policies that force young people and single mothers on to the streets. Ministers will not discuss funding safe houses or reinstating benefits to under-18s. They have cut the One Parent Benefit and Premium on which many single mothers depend. They have appointed 2,000 Inland Revenue officers to target prostitutes for taxes - another fine on penalised workers. The giving age has nothing to give children and single mothers - except rent-free accommodation in Jack Straw's secure units.

Cari Mitchell

English Collective of Prostitutes, London NW6