This is another example where ‘sex work is work’, but at the same time ‘sex work’ needs to be treated completely differently to any other kind of ‘work’.
If undercover filming had revealed breaches to food hygiene and safety regulations in a restaurant, would the chefs try to argue that their human rights had been violated by revealing the breach?
Also, co-opting the term ‘revenge porn’ is pretty low, particularly when, as Not Buying It points out, the lab dancers were regularly filmed on CCTV at ‘work’ anyway.
If Sheffield council had investigated Spearmint Rhino, Not Buying It wouldn’t have had to do so. This is DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim and offender) by Spearmint Rhino, who, as Not Buying It reveals, but the BBC failed to report, had fired half of the lap dancers they claimed to be acting on behalf of, and has a long history of abusive ‘working’ conditions.
The legal challenge by the club was ‘fronted’ by 9 of its lap dancers (half of whom, it was later revealed, the strip chain had fired) with most prior media coverage not mentioning Rhino’s involvement at all, even though two Spearmint Rhino companies were claimants in the action.
Ostensibly, Spearmint Rhino and its lap dancers had taken Not Buying It and it’s CEO to court because of video evidence the pressure group had had to gather as proof of breaches and exploitation at the chain. It was asserted that it was a breach of privacy for gathering such evidence (even though lap dancers are filmed at their place of work by club CCTV all the time) and that the pressure group would distribute such footage-some even declaring this ‘an act of revenge porn’.
“We made it clear long before they thought of taking us to court that we are about exposing the industry, not the dancers. We also made it clear that we were taking proper steps to protect the women’s privacy. We have never, and will never, identify them and we certainly were never going to distribute any video footage! What Rhino was really trying to quash was the serious breaches and exploitation at their clubs –typical of how the entire strip industry operates” says Dr Rakoff.
Not Buying It believes this is yet more evidence of how the strip industry uses and ‘hides behind’ its lap dancers for its own ends.
“By discontinuing the claim Spearmint Rhino has now basically told us ‘do what you like with the videos’. It clearly shows the real motivation for this case – threatening anyone who dares whistle blow on the strip trade with hugely stressful and potentially ruinous legal proceedings.”
It also shows the huge conflict of interests at play.
“This is a strip chain that has previously gone to court to stop lap dancers from having employment rights. It had fired half the women it then used to take this case against us. It has a documented 20 year history of exploitation (including prostitution, harassment and assault of its lap dancers). Yet we are supposed to now believe that it cares so very much about its lap dancers that it took this legal action, at a cost to itself of £10,000s if not £100,000s,‘on their behalf’? No. There was only ever one interest being served here and that was Spearmint Rhino’s” says Rakoff.