“The hardest part for me was to come home and tell my husband: ‘This is what happened. God knows where this footage is going to be shown.’”
Those are the words of one dancer at north London strip club, Spearmint Rhino who was clandestinely filmed by private investigators hired by feminist group Not Buying It to expose alleged exploitation.
The performer, known only as A to protect her privacy, is among nine dancers from Spearmint Rhino’s Camden and Sheffield branches who are taking legal action against the activist group on grounds of a human rights breach.
Not Buying It maintains that its covertly-obtained footage shows evidence of “rife sexual contact” with punters, in breach of the venue’s licensing rules, an allegation which is currently under investigation by Camden Council.
There should not be any ‘intentional physical contact between performers and customers’ at sexual entertainment venues ‘at any time’, according to UK licensing conditions.
But A, who is in her 30s, tells RightsInfo that the group’s accusations are “over-exaggerated” and that the violation of her privacy has been “traumatising”.
‘I Feel Very Paranoid’
Image Credit: Livio Burtscher / Flickr.
“I used to be very confident going to the club but now I feel very paranoid,” she told RightsInfo. “I know girls that have been physically sick after this [incident] happened.
“We all come from very different backgrounds and all live very different, successful lives. Some of the girls have got kids who don’t know what they do for a living. It would have a very bad effect on them to be recognised in public.
“Something like this shouldn’t happen without your consent to it.”
Solicitor Steven Fullman, who is acting for the performers, said that the Not Buying It’s tactics breached the club’s strict “no filming policy” as well as the dancer’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
The performers also allege that the filming constitutes a breach under the General Data Protection Regulation – which came into effect last summer.
“Our clients are seeking damages and delivery up/destruction of the footage in all its forms and any copies made,” said Mr Fullman, from solicitors firm Judge Sykes Frixou.
It is understood Not Buying It gave the court an undertaking not to share the recordings more widely and steps were taken to prevent the lapdancers being identified, the Evening Standard reported.
‘Night Work Should Be Easier’
Image Credit: Morebyless/Flickr.
Responding to Not Buying It’s claims, A told RightsInfo that night work as its stands is “very, very transparent” and the rule-breaking alleged would be impossible.
“They are over-exaggerating in the way they are saying in these place you get girls ‘touching themselves,’” she said.
“The club rules are very strict. There are girls that have been working [in the club] for a very long time and nobody would get that far [by] touching themselves.
“They use those words and they make it sound so horrible but it’s not true.
“There’s no way you can touch yourself – there are cameras everywhere.”
‘I Am Quite Comfortable Doing It’
Image Credit: Pixabay.
A told RightsInfo that she entered into the adult entertainment industry to earn some extra cash after she came to the UK as a student a few years ago.
“I am quite comfortable doing it,” she said. “I finished studying a while ago. I now have a day job and then sometimes I go to the club during the night. You need money to survive.”
Understanding that the adult-entertainment industry is not for everyone, she said: “In my country, the people are not that open minded.
But adds: “They should just do their own thing.”
We found out it was this feminist group and it didn’t make sense. How could a feminist group do something like that?
She questions how a “so-called feminist group” could film other women without their consent.
“We found out it was this feminist group and it didn’t make sense. How could a feminist group do something like that?
“I know that in theory feminism means fighting gender stereotypes and I am all up for it but I believe that some situations are only suitable for men the way that some are suitable only for women.”
Asked whether she would consider herself a feminist, she said: “Of course I am a feminist. Girls, they need to stick up for the girls.”
She spoke of the possibility of one-day starting her own feminist group to give women “confidence [and] strength no matter what”.
John Specht, UK vice president of Spearmint Rhino, said: “We are supportive of the action being taken by our performers.”
What Does Not Buying It Say?
Not Buying It gives evidence at a Camden Council licensing meeting. Image Credit: Not Buying It / Youtube.
Not Buying It, which describes itself as feminist and anti-exploitation, is calling for a ban on “the strip trade”.
“It cannot be regulated,” the group’s chief executive Dr Sasha Rakoff said in a statement released in May, after Camden Council approved a draft policy allowing the borough’s seven strip clubs to continue operating.
“It is causing immeasurable harm to the women in it – we have had dozens of women who have let [sic] the strip trade testify to this. It is harming the women who are routinely harassed outside clubs – to the extent of creating ‘no go’ zones where women simply do not use the local area.”
The group argues that the industry is “breeding Harvey Weinsteins” – referring to the disgraced former film producer who has been accused by dozens of actors of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse spanning decades. Not Buying It has been approached for further comment.
A Camden council spokeswoman said: “Camden Council recognises the seriousness of these allegations and remains committed to ensuring that sexual entertainment venues operating within the borough apply the highest possible standards that comply with licensing policy and prioritise the welfare of dancers and performers.
“The council has launched an investigation, and has been in contact with the management team at Spearmint Rhino in order to outline its concerns about the seriousness of the allegations, and to explain the immediate actions that need to be undertaken.”
What do know more? Why not read:
- Lapdancers respond to a similar incident which took place in the Sheffield branch of the Spearmint Rhino
- 30-year-old sex Worker Jo Smith writes: ‘I’m not ashamed of doing sex work for a living’