Introducing the Anita Project

Introducing the Anita Project

woman standing in a leafy suburban street

We are delighted to announce the expansion of our services for women and girls exploited through prostitution.

We have been awarded funding by the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to further develop our services for women and girls in north and East London harmed through prostitution.1

nia has delivered services to women, girls and children subjected to sexual and domestic violence, including prostitution for 45 years. nia holds an ‘abolitionist’ position with regards to prostitution. We believe the prostitution should be ended because it is, in itself, a key form of violence against women and we want to end men’s violence against women. Whilst prostitution harms the women directly affected most of all, it harms all women. Like other forms of men’s violence against and abuse of women, it is both a cause and consequence of sex inequality. We will never have equality between the sexes if one sex is for sale as a commodity (the woman), and the other sex is both the profit maker (the pimp) and the customer.

nia’s current specialist services for women who have been sexually exploited include our specialist refuges the Emma Project2 and Daria House3 and community-based advocacy services supporting women to exit prostitution in Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Haringey4 and Brent5 . We also have a night-time outreach van which enables women to find out more about what we do without telling us anything they don’t want to. Our services are built upon a foundation of supporting women to exit prostitution whilst recognising that the process of exiting prostitution is neither straightforward nor swift and the barriers are complex and many. All nia’s exiting prostitution services offer confidential, non-judgemental support to women.

The new service, The Anita Project6 has been devised to bring about long-term sustainable change for women facing multiple disadvantage and who are involved in prostitution in London. Service will operate in the regions where we already provide services but will address gaps that we have identified, namely: women using drug and alcohol services, who are abused through ‘survival sex’ including those who may not be involved in street prostitution and who may not see themselves as being involved in prostitution, Romanian women who are significantly over-represented amongst women accessing the current services and women who are involved in off-street prostitution. The new service will be evaluated to help us accurately assess the difference that the project makes and to identify learning that we can share with others who want to make their services more appropriate and accessible to women who may not currently benefit from existing services.

nia’s Chief Executive, Karen Ingala Smith said “We are very pleased that Mayor of London and the team at MOPAC recognise prostitution as a form of men’s violence against women and girls (VAWG) in their strategy to end VAWG and grateful that they have recognised the need for this service and the potential benefits it will bring to some of the capital’s most vulnerable and marginalised women and girls. “

Jodie Woodward, Director of Operations at nia’s East London Rape Crisis, will lead the service and said that “Women in prostitution are subjected to high levels of violence and discrimination. It’s important that all our services are adapted to meet the needs of all women and also to recognise that some women need specific support to help them to live free from violence and harm. I am looking forward to appointing the staff team to run this new service and making a difference to women who up to now, may have been left without support.”

If you are interested in joining us and being part of this project, please keep an eye on the jobs page of our website.


  1.  Funded until March 2022
  2. The Emma Project is a pioneering refuge and outreach service for women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence including women who have been exploited through prostitution and who also use substances problematically. The Emma Project is named after Emma Humphreys, who, aged 17, after being convicted of the murder of her violent 33-year-old boyfriend and pimp, Trevor Armitage. Emma was freed 12 years later in 1985 winning an appeal changing the conviction to manslaughter on the grounds of long-term provocation. Emma died of an accidental overdose of prescribed medication, 3 years later, aged just 30.
  3. Daria House is a refuge for women who have been sexually exploited, with a particular focus on supporting women who been exploited through their involvement in prostitution. Daria House is named after Daria Pionko who was murdered in Leeds’ so-called prostitution managed zone in December 2015. In Daria’s memory we say prostitution can never be safe for women.
  4. Funded by the Big Lottery until June 2022.
  5. Funded by the London Borough of Brent until March 2021
  6. Named after Anita Kapoor, murdered by a sex-buyer, Navin Mohan, in London in 2015.

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