By JENNA RICHARDS
Members of South Devon’s Women’s Institute branches have supported calls to legalise brothels.
The women spoke out after a Channel Four documentary showed the Hampshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes calling for prostitution to be legalised.
The licensing of brothels was the subject of its motion for debate at the autumn meeting last year of the WI’s Hampshire Federation, which has 6,000 members. The motion received almost unanimous backing. Now South Devon members have backed their Hampshire colleagues’ campaign.
Brixham WI chairman Elly Challoner said: “We’ve been talking about this for a while and most of our ladies agree with those in Hampshire.
“My personal view is that if this is the way the girls are making their living, then they should be able to get protection.
“Some of the things I saw on the programme, such as fitting rooms with panic alarms connected to the police, were excellent ideas.
“I think that the WI is made up of sensible women and it is a common sense view to protect these girls- after all they are women too.”
Patricia Wyatt, chairman of the Wellswood women’s institute in Torquay, also supported the calls to legalise prostitution. She said: “I totally agree that brothels should be legalised. It is about time a suitable organisation did something about this issue.
“I feel very sorry for the girls who feel this is the best way to earn a living. However, it is not a simple issue, there are other things that need to be addressed such as housing, education and getting a better life for these girls.”
Wendy Kealey, of the Marldon evening WI, also thinks protecting working girls is a good thing.
If brothels were legalised, they would need to be licensed. Cllr Peter Addis, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “If it saves one rape or abuse case then it could be a good thing – but it would have to be proved.”
The Channel Four documentary, shown on Sunday, followed two Hampshire WI members embark on a global mission to investigate the effects that laws elsewhere have on prostitution and searching for the perfect brothel.
They visited Amsterdam and found out what it feels like to work in a window brothel.
In Nevada, they joined the line-up in one of Nevada’s licensed sex ranches.
And in New Zealand, they experienced the luxury of an upmarket self-run prostitution co-op.
They returned to England armed with plenty of ideas and determined to bring their resolution before the WI national meeting in 2009.
(c) 2008 Herald Express (Torquay UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.