Saturday at 2pm | Jersey Opera House
To this point, everything I’ve seen in the Festival has been either a children’s event or a playful, poetic celebration of words, sprinkling them like glitter, using them to enrich our lives joyfully. Words take on new employment here.
Over the course of their talk, Kat Banyard and Diane Martins cut language back, aiming to provide clarity and show up the bare bone facts of the sex trade, ugly truths often obscured by language. As Kat Banyard demonstrated, when you cut through how the “sex trade” is often labelled or described, what’s left is nothing more than a description of sexual abuse.
But this wasn’t a discourse on language. Nor was it an expansively emotional outburst raging across the Opera House stage. This was a carefully-focused precision strike on the hard facts of sexual exploitation, its pinpoint control giving it an intensity that mere emotion couldn’t. The world of prostitution is so obscured by deep-rooted contests for power and money – leaving a sort of verbal fog over the reality of the situation – that it needs exactly the controlled approach adopted by Banyard and Martins to get through to the truth. The facts can finally be seen plainly. Never has it felt quite so distasteful to be making notes in a talk.
Both speakers come from positions of great knowledge. Their input has been sought by various institutions, police forces and government Select Committees. Such a wealth of insight allows them to efficiently and methodically handle questions such as the interplay between law and society, between sex-buyers and those exploited into sexual coercion. It allows them to calmly sift through established attitudes in order to uncover what lies underneath.
We should be glad that there are people like Banyard and Martins working in this field with such admirable focus. Whilst understandably not the easiest draw for a sunny Saturday afternoon, this is a talk that needs to be heard around the world; heard louder; heard urgently.