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Walking with Rosie Campbell and Shelly Stoops in Liverpool was a poignant as well as an affirming experience. They traced a walk-through areas of Liverpool which had in the past been or were areas where street sex work took place and at the same time the walk traced their own history as researchers, outreach staff, and activists both challenging stigma and violence against sex workers, whilst supporting the women working both on and off street in Liverpool for the past twenty years.
It was an affirming experience in that the walk and conversations often revolved around their shared practice, what they had contributed to Liverpool, specifically around challenging violence, coercion and control, as well as our shared commitment to promoting rights and social justice for sex workers.
Campaigning by residents against sex work in the area, displacement and violence against sex workers were key themes. Our walk documented in large part the murders and rapes that both Rosie and Shelly had evidenced in their long history of outreach work in Liverpool, but both also, along the way, wanted to stress the inspirational women they had met, their resilience, the difficult times and the humour they had shared.
The history of sex work goes back far longer than Rosie and I. It was very much port-related and then there was a shift during World War II because we had troops coming in through the train station because the docks were being constantly bombed. Rosie, if you want to pick it up there when it moves then to the clubs on Jamaica Street.
Yes, club and bar working in and around Jamaica Street. The port scene on the Dock Road still carried on into the late 90s, when I did the health of seafarers and lorry drivers in the port research.