Strip clubs could be banned in Bristol ‘to protect women from harassment’

The legs of a dancer around a pole in a strip club. Bristol Council is looking at closing strip clubs to tackle violence against women.
Some councillors believe closing strip clubs will help tackle violence against women (Picture: Getty)

Bristol could ban strip clubs under plans being considered by the council to protect women from violence and harassment.

Councillors narrowly voted to see whether residents want strip clubs closed before making a decision.

It follows years of campaigning from women’s rights groups to have the venues banned in the interest of women’s safety.

In the meeting reported by the Bristol Post, Cllr Marg Hickman said they ‘can’t ignore’ the violence against women that is perpetrated by people who go to the two city centre strip clubs Urban Tiger and Central Chambers.

She said: ‘Casual street harassment of women and domestic homicide are some of the biggest issues Bristol has to deal with.

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‘I’m not saying all of that comes from these two clubs, but some of it probably does. There is evidence to suggest this.’

But this was rejected by other councillors, who said there are far more rapes and assaults linked to Bristol’s nightclubs than the two sexual entertainment venues (SEVs).

Cllr Richard Eddy said they must weigh up the crime statistics and evidence, and not give ‘our moral view’ on strip clubs, the Post reports.

Strip club, striptease and nightlife concept theme with a red and blue light neon sign against a brick wall with the text gentlemen's club. Bristol Council is looking at closing strip clubs to tackle violence against women.
There are currently two SEVs in Bristol’s city-centre (Picture: Getty Images)
A protester holds a placard as Dutch sex workers demonstrate to demand the right to go back to work. Bristol Council is looking at closing strip clubs to tackle violence against women.
Many have argued that it is the stigma against sex workers which contributes to their increased likelihood of experiencing violence (Picture: Reuters)

He said: ‘In my view there is no link at all. The existing clubs are well run and well regulated, so I can’t see evidence that we should drop the cap to nil.’ 

Currently, the city caps their SEVs at three.

Urban Tiger and Central Chambers are the two in the city centre, while one is allowed on the outskirts, but it has not been opened.

Those who want strip clubs closed will vote for a ‘nil cap’ so that no SEVs exist.

However, a 2019 council survey found two-thirds of people thought the city’s strip clubs should stay open and be regulated. 

Many have slammed the idea due to how many predominantly female sex workers would be left without a job in the middle of a pandemic.

Others have said there is not enough evidence to show that closing strip clubs would have any effect on gender-based violence. 

Both Urban Tiger and Central Chambers have been campaigning against the proposed nil cap, with many dancers speaking out against the potential job losses.

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Jessica Risqué said: ‘We do not need someone to say that they have control over what they think is right for me to do with my body. 

‘I will not accept it from any man. I’m not going to accept it from any radical feminist. And I’m not going to take someone telling me how I can use my time and my energy to fund how I live my life. 

‘They are not taking into consideration how this will actually personally affect a lot of people, especially after a pandemic which we’re still going through.’

Sex workers, of all kinds, have a 45% to 75% chance of experiencing sexual violence at some point in their careers, according to several studies including one by activism group Urban Justice.

But there has long been debate over whether this is because of the nature of sex work, or because of social stigmas that leave sex workers unprotected. 

Bristol’s council will run a 12-week consultation but it is not yet known when this will begin.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk. 

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Bristol – Metro