ITV’s call girl show harms anti-trafficking message

A Scottish woman’s campaigner has slammed the popular portrayal of prostitution as an empowering enjoyable activity in shows such as Secret Diary of a Call Girl, warning that it is putting women in danger.

Ann Hamilton, head of the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), warned that such shows, accompanied by the increasing popularity of scantily clad pop stars and glamour models, often lead people to view prostitution as a harmless activity.

And this false perception in turn serves to fuel demand for prostitutes leaving more women exposed to danger.


She said: “People tend to think that prostitution is dead sexy, very liberating and that there is nothing harmful about it.

“It’s portrayed as very attractive women having lots of sex and enjoying it, when in actual fact that’s about 0.005 per cent of women. Shows like Secret Diary of a Call Girl have been very damaging in the public’s awareness.”

The campaigner also hit out at the popularity of scantily clad pop stars and glamour models for fuelling the problem.


She said: “Even music stars like to look like a stereotypical call girl because they think there’s something sexy and empowering about it. The women’s outfits might be very sexy but the reality of prostitution is not.

“We now have girls saying they want to be glamour models and lap-dancers and it’s all part of that culture making it more acceptable.”

A spokesman for ITV defended the show, saying: “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl is based on one woman’s publicly documented, real life experiences of prostitution, and was made with her endorsement and her agreement.


“It makes it clear the character was working as a high class call girl in London and does not, at any point, try to suggest it represents prostitution as a whole,” he added.

In February a former lap-dancer warned that girls under the age of 18 are pushed to perform sexual acts on men in lap-dancing clubs in order to make the job pay.

In a candid interview with The Times, an ex-lap dancer called Milly shattered the myth that the practice “is no more than dancing”.


“No one sticks to that,” she said. “And if you do, you quickly lose out.”

Last October The Archbishop of York hit out at the glamorisation of prostitution as a “middle class trade” through its fictional portrayal on television.

Dr John Sentamu blamed books and television dramas such as Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and criticised it for giving the public a misleading perception of prostitution.


Archbishop Sentamu said the lifestyle acted out in the drama was far from the reality of the suffering endured by the majority of women involved in prostitution.

“There is a myth that has been perpetuated in recent years, especially by sections within the liberal media, that many people who prostitute themselves do so not because they are oppressed or desperate for money, but because they see it as an easy way to make money through a relatively ‘safe’ and lucrative career”, Dr Sentamu wrote in The Sunday Times.

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