UK P4P News

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30th December   

Sex Supermarket...

Parliamentary question to the Solicitor General re prostitution
Link Here

House of Commons logo Questions to the Solicitor General

Tony Lloyd (Manchester, Central) (Lab): What her policy is on the prosecution of offences associated with prostitution and kerb crawling.

The Solicitor-General (Vera Baird): Our policy is to consider alternatives to prosecution to help prostitutes to find a route out of prostitution while emphasising the need to arrest and prosecute kerb crawlers. That is part of a strategy to focus enforcement action on the purchasers who create the demand.

Tony Lloyd: I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer, which I find reassuring. In areas such as my constituency, where there are two locations where street prostitution is known, people find kerb crawlers to be the nuisance. Many people are sympathetic to the view that driving prostitutes further underground puts women who are already at risk at even greater risk. Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that the Government’s strategy is not to make the prostitute’s position even more dangerous?

The Solicitor-General: I can confirm that. I compliment my hon. Friend for taking a long interest in the care of women in prostitution in the two areas of his constituency. I completely agree that crackdowns on kerb crawlers must be carried out in conjunction with diverting prostitutes through appropriate local projects. I am impressed by the strategy employed in my area of Cleveland, where referral workers are available in custody suites and work closely with police and vice units to ensure that women who are stopped by the police can be referred to appropriate services straight away.

Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Next year, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker), will visit Sweden and the Netherlands to look at measures introduced to tackle the demand side of the prostitution equation. Will the Solicitor-General consider accompanying him?

The Solicitor-General: I intend to go with my hon. Friend to Sweden to look at those measures and to do the best comparative study that we can, so that we can fully inform ourselves. The hon. Gentleman was on the Committee that considered the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, so he will have heard my hon. Friend announce that we will review the way in which we tackle demand to see whether we need to be tougher. That trip and other research will feed into the review.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): Has my hon. and learned Friend seen the research report entitled “It’s just like going to the supermarket”? It suggests that our interventions with men who buy sex are not particularly effective, and that it would be more effective to reduce the normalisation of the commercialisation of sexual relationships that underpins those men’s belief that they are entitled to buy women’s bodies.

The Solicitor-General: Yes, I have seen that research. Indeed, I attended the launch in Whitechapel. The report contains interviews with a range of different men who use prostitutes. At times during their interviews, they referred to it as being just like going to the supermarket to buy any other commodity. They said that they would not be deterred if it were a criminal offence, but different research suggests that they would be. We must see what the best approaches are, and that is why we are reviewing demand.

 

29th December   

On the Numbers Game...

Denis MacShane's trafficking claims are bollox
Link Here

New Labour New Prison Harriet Harman holds that a Swedish-style law against buying sex is necessary to stem demand for sex workers trafficked into Britain. She was supported by former Europe minister Denis MacShane, who insisted there are 25,000 sex slaves in the UK. This is a startling assertion - 25,000 is more than the entire workforce of Debenhams. How is it that this vast number of women and girls are so readily available to male clients and yet simultaneously so difficult for the police to detect?

When 515 indoor prostitution establishments were raided by police as part of Operation Pentameter last year, only 84 women and girls who conformed to police and immigration officers' understanding of the term victim of trafficking were rescued . At this rate, the police would need to raid some 150,000 indoor prostitution establishments to unearth MacShane's 25,000 sex slaves. The fact that there are estimated to be fewer than 1,000 such establishments in London gives some indication of how preposterous MacShane's claim is.

Abuse and exploitation undoubtedly occur in the UK sex sector, but only a minority of cases involve women and girls being imprisoned and physically forced into prostitution by a third party. More usually, those who are vulnerable are working to pay off debts incurred in migration, or to supplement paltry single-parent benefits. Their vulnerability is in large part a consequence of government action and inaction - its failure to regulate the sex sector, its immigration and welfare policies etc. And raids by police and immigration officials normally result in their deportation or prosecution for benefit fraud, not in their assistance or protection.

The government's concern about sex trafficking appears to have helped immigration officers meet their targets for deportations without protecting sex workers. Evidence from other countries (including Sweden) suggests that a policy of suppression, whether focused on clients or sex workers, can have very negative consequences for those who trade sex. But in place of serious debate based on independent research evidence, we are offered hyperbole and emotive rhetoric about sex slaves. We need to move beyond this and think not only about how to offer those who currently work in prostitution protection, but also how to ensure them rights.

 

28th December   

Comment: The Business of Sex...

So what will men do if they are denied sex?
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison Britain's minister for women wants to make it illegal to pay for sex - but there's no way such a law could be enforced.

Earlier this month Harriet Harman, the minister for women, signalled a new government offensive against the freedom of the individual. On December 20, Harman announced that she was considering the introduction of legislation to criminalise payments for sex: Do we think it's right in the 21st century that women should be in a sex trade, or do we think it's exploitation and should be banned?

Well, of course, put like that it's easy to see what answer Harman is expecting to the "very big debate" she has now apparently promised to launch early in the new year. No one - surely - is in favour of "exploitation", so - surely - we must all favour making it illegal for a man (or, less commonly, a woman) to pay for sex. An open and shut case - surely.

But the issue is much more complicated than Harman wants us to believe.

Sex is - like it or not - a commodity and paying for it is an economic transaction which, like any other economic transaction, involves a buyer and a seller. A man wants to enjoy a woman's body, and once he finds a woman willing to sell her body, temporarily, for this purpose the two parties to the transaction strike a price. The price is paid and the service is delivered. This - basically - is what prostitution involves.

I am not for one moment ignoring the exploitation that prostitution might involve. It might involve, as Harman says, the international trafficking in women by criminal gangs. It might involve slavery. It might involve sex with persons under 18 years of age. However, all these activities are already prohibited by law, as they should be.

But prostitution itself is not at present illegal. An indeterminate number of women - and men - in this country appear to follow successful careers as professional prostitutes. That is entirely their business, and the business of their clients. The state has no right to intervene, save to collect the tax due on the income lawfully generated.

The criminalisation of prostitution is most unlikely to be enforceable. The history of prohibition in the USA (1918-28) shows us that where there is a demand for a commodity, otherwise law-abiding people will go to any lengths to ensure a supply. If Miss Harman has her way, the police in this country would be engaged in a war they could never win, and would soon lose public sympathy, as in the USA, which no doubt explains why the Police Federation is so lukewarm to Harman's initiative.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith, in endorsing this initiative, claimed to recognise "that there is considerable support for us to do more to tackle the demand for prostitution". I know of no such "considerable support" but, in any case, "the demand for prostitution" emanates (does it not?) from basic sexual instinct. Exactly how does Miss Smith propose to tackle this "demand"? By adding bromide to our drinking water? I think not. But I do fear that some men, unable to cope with their sexuality, and facing prosecution if prostitution is criminalised, will engage instead in acts of unspeakable violence.

Is that what Smith and Harman really want? If so, they are certainly going the right way about it.

 

27th December   

Comment: Reaction...

To Harriet Harman's batty suggestions
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison I asked my MP about Harriet Harman's suggestion

He kindly replied:

I am aware of the reaction that Harriet Harman's proposal has provoked, and this will have to be taken into account when/if any decisions are taken on possible legislative change.

It seems as if this one isn't as popular with the public as some might have expected.

I wonder why?

 

25th December   

Comment: Batty MPs...

Doubting government legislation criminalising buying sex
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison Re the Criminal Injustice amendment to ban the buying of sex in designated zones:

It is not a piece of legislation yet. Just a few batty amendments from a few batty MPs. And Harriet Harman, who isn't the responsible minister, attempting to create a policy where none existed before. For me, the telling point is that Coaker and his colleagues have not associated themselves with Harman's suggestion. In fact the department was fairly quick off the blocks to pour cold water on it (in the friendliest way).

The thing is that none of these ideas are new. The CJIB amendments would apply some odd version of a control order to people buying sex in designated areas. Total batshit, and the police would not be in favour in the slightest. Designating "areas of safety" would have the effect of making the non-designated areas into "red light zones". That idea has been thought through before and rejected.

The department knows there are only three choices:

a) Do nothing and leave the current hotch-potch of legality/illegality in place.

b) Criminalise the trade in sexual services.

c) License and regulate the trade in sexual services.

The department is studiously not saying what their prefered approach is, which is, as I've said, telling. About 12 months ago there was a similar fact finding visit to the US to look at the implementation of a "Megan's Law" for notifying the public as to the whereabouts of sex offenders. At that time, the Home Office, including the Home Sec. was saying that they did intend to copy the US and have a "Sarah's Law" in the UK. The fact finding visit would simply be a means of determining HOW to implement it. There was lots of press trumpetting and N of the W headlines raising expectations that lists of paedos would be pasted up outside your local Town Hall. But I think the junior minister who went to the US must have seen just how badly Megan's Law works at actually protecting anybody, because in the event we have had no such law here in the UK and the whole thing has disappeared from view.

If anything, Harman's pronouncement, and the odd set of amendments from these publicity hungry MPs suggest to me that the government is looking at anything but a suggestion like Harman's. Most rational heads seem to think that the experiment in Sweden has done little if anything to protect sex workers and that since the law change, prostitution in Sweden is just as widespread but not as visible.

We will see as this thing unfolds, but my money is on; a) Do nothing.

 

23rd December   

Update: New Labour New Offence...

More bollox targeting guys buying sex
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison The usual Labour nutters have proposed a typically mean minded amendment to the Criminal Injustice Bill currently passing through parliament.

Fiona Mactaggart
Barry Gardiner
Denis MacShane

To move the following Clause:

  1. A local authority may designate any part of its area as a zone of safety.
     
  2. A chief officer of police may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, designate any area as a zone of safety.
     
  3. The Secretary of State may approve a designation under subsection (2) if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the incidence of prostitution in the proposed zone has contributed to an increase in criminality in the locality.
     
  4. It, in a zone of safety, a person (A):
    (a) intentionally obtains for himself the sexual services of another person (B),
    and (b) before obtaining those services, has made or promised payment for those services to B or a third person, or knows that another person has made or promised such a payment, the local authority or the chief officer of police may apply to a magistrates’ court for an order forbidding A from doing those things again anywhere.
     
  5. In subsection (4)(b) “payment” means any financial advantage, including the discharge of an obligation to pay or the provision of goods and services (including sexual services) gratuitously or at a discount.
     
  6. The Secretary of State may by regulations made such supplementary provision about orders under subsection (4) as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
     
  7. Regulations under subsection (6) are to be made by statutory instrument and are subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
     
  8. A person who is the subject of an order under subsection (4) and who fails to comply with the terms of that order is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale or to a community punishment order or to both.’.

 

23rd December   

Comments: New Labour New Meanness...

Melon Farmers comment on criminalising paying for sex
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison Thanks to Alan

You may be interested to know that some modest efforts have been made to treat prostitutes like any other workers: attempt to defend/improve their working conditions by organizing them in a trade union.

The union which has attempted to do so is the TGWU (now merged into Unite). A leading full-time official is none other than Jack Dromey, hubby of Harriet Harman. Do they ever talk at breakfast?

It's bizarre to see the career trajectory of Harman, who started off as a (rather good) civil liberties lawyer.

Thanks to MichaelG on the Melon Farmers Forum

Wow! Didn't expect such a reaction from Daily Mail readers, but it certainly does show just how much Harman has lost the plot. I found the following comment very moving:

"I am disabled and I buy sex through an escort agency. If this was to be made illegal, what would I, and others like me, do to be able to have sex? This is the only way! Aren't my needs the same as anyone else? It's just that, in general, the females of this country, aren't interested in you if you are disabled. Or, perhaps, this, if made into law, is just another way of hitting the disabled community".

Yes, the government who claim to introduce laws to 'protect' the more vulnerable members of our society aims a huge legislative kick at the MOST vulnerable and shamefully under-assisted minority group in the country. Well done, Harriet, I hope you're really fucking proud of yourself. I assume our prisons will now be equipped with wheelchair access facilities for the forthcoming surge of disabled criminals whose only crime has been wanting to experience sexual intimacy with someone? I am absolutely DISGUSTED with this rotten, vindictive government...

From the Observer see New Puritans, please stop being priggish about sex by Jasper Gerard

...But having unleashed a society which reveres sex and denigrates thought, the government seems to think it can undo all the carnage by passing a law: as if by divine miracle, we can become born-again Puritans.

Cromwell's apparent heir is Harriet Harman. Her latest campaign is to outlaw prostitution. Has she not learnt that any attempt to use parliamentary instruments to stop people having sex has mildly less chance of success than a law against rain? And even if she could stop men paying for sex, I wish the other New Puritans luck stopping young women providing it for free.

Let me concede that often one feels like siding with the New Puritans. Looking at a provincial high street on Saturday night, I imagine my own daughter in a few years' time and want to weep. The horror is multiplied by a million when I think of sex-trafficked women being brutalised in towns across Britain.

But surely government has tested to destruction the fantasy that you can change society by banning stuff. Isn't the real problem with trafficked prostitutes that, first, we have virtually no border police so smugglers can operate with impunity, and, second, because prostitution is already underground, it can't be regulated? If the ban is simply about 'sending a message', then Harman should realise it is a message that will be ignored, as with hunting.

And, for all the hideous vulgarity of modern life, would we really rather return to an England where young women committed suicide out of shame or visited back-street abortionists? Between Cromwell and Assess My Breasts, is there not a third way?

Education changes people; censoriousness just irritates them. Try to take away their figgy pudding and people rebel, eventually. The Lord Protector learnt that the hard way; so, it seems, will Gordon Brown at the end of this long parliament

 

21st December   

Jail for Wanting to Get Laid...

UK's Harriet Hardman proposes jail for buying sex
Link Here

New Lanour, New Prison UK men who use prostitutes could soon face a fine or even jail under new plans to make it illegal to pay for sex.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who is also women’s minister, confirmed the Government is studying the law in Sweden, where prostitution was recently made illegal.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme , Harman said she supported criminalising men who use prostitutes as a means of tackling the rising problem of sex trafficking.

She went on: I think we do need to have a debate and unless you tackle the demand side of human trafficking which is fuelling this trade, we will not be able to protect women from it.

That is what they’ve done in Sweden. My own personal view is that’s what we need to do as a next step. Do we think it’s right in the 21st century that women should be in a sex trade or do we think it’s exploitation and should be banned? Just because something has always gone on, it doesn’t mean you just wring your hands and say there’s nothing we can do about it.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker and junior women’s minister Barbara Follett are due to visit Sweden and Amsterdam to examine the systems there.

And a powerful group of Labour MPs have tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which comes before Parliament in the New Year, giving local councils the power to declare certain areas no-go zones for prostitution. Men who paid for sex with prostitutes within the zones would be liable for prosecution.

The amendment is being sponsored by former Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart, along with senior Labour backbenchers Denis MacShane and Barry Gardiner.

The English Collective of Prostitutes attacked Harman’s support for the Swedish system and urged her to look at New Zealand’s system of legalising brothels instead.

Spokeswoman Cari Mitchell said: The 1999 law introduced in Sweden which criminalised men who buy sex, who on conviction face six months in jail, has forced prostitution further underground, made women more vulnerable to violence, driven women into the hands of pimps and made it harder for the police to prosecute violent men and traffickers.

Ministers are visiting Sweden and Amsterdam but New Zealand’s experience of decriminalising prostitution, where women are now more able to come forward and report violence, is being ignored.

Liberal Democrat spokesman David Howarth said a ban was not the answer, arguing that it could put women in more danger: Evidence from Sweden in making prostitution illegal has shown that it doesn't help in reducing human trafficking. It, in fact, increases violence against women and makes the practice of prostitution far more risky for all involved. Outlawing prostitution completely will mean that men will be far less likely to come forward to help with prosecutions for fear of criminalisation themselves.

Alan Gordon, vice chairman of the Police Federation, also spoke out against further criminalisation: A move towards legalising state-run facilities would certainly be something which could be examined, as they could possibly eradicate underground prostitution and therefore have a knock-on effect on human trafficking.

Comment: Colossal Hostility

From freeworld on the Melon Farmers Forum

Have you seen the colossal hostility on the Daily Mail comments site re Hormone's "criminal to pay for sex proposals". It shows how totally out of touch this ban everything regime are now-no wonder they are going into opinion poll meltdown.

At least every police state law seems to be another nail in their coffin.

 

20th December   

Update: TV Documentary follow up...

Should sex tourism be banned
Link Here

Publicity still The documentary, My Boyfriend, the Sex Tourist was shown on Channel 4 this week. There is now a follow up poll on Channel 4's Talking Points section:

Most of item tries to reprehensibly tie adult sex tourism with the issue of child prostitution. It may be worth voting in the poll just to register a disagreement with the moralists always trying to label adult sex seekers as paedophiles.

The Sex Tourism

Your chance to have your say about sex tourism

What is sex tourism?

Travelling to a foreign country with the express intention of having sex with local prostitutes, usually involving the handing over of money or gifts in return. In many of these destination countries prostitution is legal, so there's no law preventing specialist resorts and 'hotels' from openly advertising the 'services' on offer on the internet. Figures of Western adults travelling with the explicit purpose of having sex with consenting adults in their destination country do not exist.

Should sex tourism be banned?

 

18th December   

Comment: My Boyfriend the Sex Tourist...

Mean minded documentary on UK TV
Link Here

Publicity still The British government should take a stand against men who travel abroad to buy [adult] sex

Selling sex to male foreigners is an all too common occupation for many young women in poor and developing countries. Prostitution is a horrible job - we know this from the countless stories from the women involved. But now there is an emerging market in the "girlfriend trade", where men do not just buy sex, but have a woman thrown in for the duration of their stay.

Director Monica Garnsey travelled to Venezuela and Thailand to look at the growing demand for "commercialised love". Her two-part documentary, My Boyfriend, the Sex Tourist , is told through the stories of the women for sale. With the UK government currently considering whether or not to criminalise the buying of sexual services, is this not the moment to push for UK men to be deterred from buying sex abroad? Sex tourism deters regular tourism, adversely affects the economy, and leads to abuse and degradation of the women caught up in it.

At Total Satisfaction, a resort on an island off Venezuela, white, middle-aged men arrive alone. As well as the sun, sea, sand and constant flow of alcohol, they are waiting for the line-up which greets all newcomers. Euphemistically known as an "audition", several scantily-clad women come running to the bar when the bell rings. If they are not chosen, they do not make any money, so they do their best to look enthusiastic and keen. Whoever is picked by a customer is required to move her belongings into his room. "She will spend the full 24 hours with you and will satisfy your every need and desire," reads the blurb on the website.

Sex tourists in Thailand often go further than buying a "girlfriend" and look for a wife. For the women in the Thai sex industry, the prospect of a foreign husband and a nice house in the west is a far better prospect than dire poverty. But the fact that some women are desperate enough to sell themselves to such men is no excuse for us to accept the fact that thousands of British men take advantage of their lack of choice. If a man cannot acquire a girlfriend the old-fashioned way, he should accept that it is unlikely a beautiful young woman in a far-away country will want him as her personal sex-god. The UK government should take a stand against men who travel abroad to buy sex, as it allows poorer countries to sell its women like cheap, holiday tat.

 

17th December   

Decriminalise Clients...

A new forum campaigning against criminalising paying for pleasure
Link Here

The forum to oppose any parliamentary plans to criminalise consensual commercial sex between adults is now operational.

The website can be found at www.decriminaliseclients.co.uk
The forum can be accessed from the site by clicking on 'forum' (top left)
Members can then sign in by clicking 'sign in' , and then 'apply
for membership'

 

8th December   

Paying for Moral Superiority...

Sweden more developed than the rest of the world?
Link Here

Swedish Arena magazine cover The cover story of the new Arena continues the journal's quest to break the taboos characterizing the Swedish debate on prostitution. Pundit Petra Östergren's essay The untouchables shows how sex-sellers are not only stigmatized in everyday life but also silenced in the political debate.

On the cover, Östergren's article is presented with the words Victims of the Left: Hookers without a voice , and she does claim that it is particularly the Left who has failed to listen to the experiences of the sex-workers. This has led to a Swedish prostitution law that is one of the strictest in Europe.

The Swedish policy on prostitution, writes Östergren, serves to confirm the nation's image of itself as the moral conscience of the world. When this image – built on neutrality, Olof Palme's strong criticism of the war in Vietnam, and the support for the ANC in South Africa – threatens to crack, the prostitution issue offers an opportunity for Sweden to again act as a "moral lighthouse". Inger Segelström, Social Democratic member of the European Parliament, gives her answer to why other countries legalize prostitution while Sweden criminalizes it (obviously surprised by the question): But we are more developed than the rest of the world.



2nd December  Comment:  New Year Resolution ...
   
Government's January proposal to criminalise buying sex?

Puritans

Gordon Brown's ministerial team.
Left to right:
Women's Issues,
Patriotism & Jingoism,
Religious Observance,
Fun & Recreation,
Men's Issues 

My interpretation of Vernon Croakers comments on 27/11 is that they will propose a P4P offence in January 2008 unless dissuaded.

Politically it would have been impossible to introduce such an unpopular measure this week, and given the effect of the current debacle on cabinet power structures he was hedging his bets.

Croaker says: I would not wish to rule out possible changes for the future ... (Column 568 para 2 Bill Committee minutes 27/11/07 AM). He rejects Harry Cohens proposed rehabilitation order (Column 567 para 6) as a criminal offence is something we are considering -ie Harry Cohen's proposal is too lenient for Croaker.

He also says his visit to Sweden will be early in the New Year. I think this is telling, because their best time window to introduce legislation is Jan 08 when the tabloids will be full of the Steve Wright trial for the Ipswich murders, and they can try to manipulate the natural public sympathy for the victims of those events to introduce repressive legislation.

Bear in mind that Home Office research on clients by Elizabeth Kelly is ongoing. Also that after the Bill Committee report they have the option of replacing Philip Hollobone's badly drafted amendment, with their own `Labour` amendment. Bear in mind also The Government need to get this through the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the issue of necessity, and that means closing what they see as the bolt holes on advertising, client attitudes, and the negatives of Sweden.

All this means it is imperative to get an opposing criminalisation forum up and running as soon as possible, because unless there is co-ordinated opposition to criminalising P4P now, repressive legislation will go through in the New Year.

 

30th November    Paying For It ...
   
Government review on criminalising paying for sex
Home Office logoThe government has launched a root-and-branch review of prostitution laws, which will examine the effects of Sweden's policy of prosecuting men for buying sex.

Home office minister Vernon Coaker has told MPs he will travel to Sweden and the Netherlands in the new year to study how different regimes have affected demand, amid growing pressure for radical action to curb the growth in sex trafficking.

The Guardian revealed in September that ministers were considering radical proposals to criminalise buying sex, but Coaker's remarks are the first public acknowledgment of the discussions. The review will take around six months and look at the experience of several countries.

MPs want the change introduced in an amendment to the criminal justice bill going through parliament, which is backed by Fiona Mactaggart, until recently the Home Office minister responsible for tackling the sex industry. We would not have expected to be in the House of Commons in 2007 talking about modern day slavery, Coaker told the bill committee.

He said ministers had concerns about whether the Swedish system might make prostitutes more vulnerable, but there was considerable support to tackle the demand for prostitution and trafficking.

 

25th November    Cash Cows ...
   
Aberdeen police to profit from un-speed cameras?
neunspca.jpgPolice have refused to say if spy cameras aimed at cracking down on kerb-crawlers will be used to target other drivers.

The digital cameras have been bought by Grampian Police using a Scottish Government grant to help tackle prostitution.

They will be used in marked and unmarked cars and vans and can detect number plates stored in a national database.

The cameras can scan car number plates at the rate of about one per second on vehicles travelling up to 100mph.

And while police have bought them to monitor kerb crawlers, a spokeswoman refused to say whether they would be used to detect other offences.

Grampian Joint Police Board member and Tory councillor Jim Farquarson, said: I have no problem with anything designed to fight crime. I would support these cameras being used for other, but I would not want to see them being used as a cash cow. They would have to be used for serious crimes and nothing petty. [Like kerb crawling?]

Aberdeen Community Safety Partnership agreed to buy the cameras, which cost £8,000 each, after the grant was confirmed earlier this year.

New anti-prostitution legislation was introduced in October, outlawing kerb-crawling. It also meant the scrapping of the city's harbour tolerance zone for prostitution, the only one of its kind in Scotland. It was previously an offence to sell sex, but now it is also illegal to try to buy the services of a prostitute. Offenders can be fined up to £1,000.

 

16th November    The Swedish Experience ...
   
Prostitution much reduced, increase in abuse and rape
Sweden flagSweden has drastically reduced human trafficking and prostitution by imposing a ban on the purchase of sexual services, the first of its kind worldwide.

It's 9 p.m. in Stockholm and Malmskillnadsgatan Street is dead. The road, infamous for being one of the city's main drags for street prostitution, used to be packed with women, but tonight only three women are working the street.

The ban is hardly controversial in Sweden these days. According to opinion polls, 80% of the population agree with the ban. When a majority consisting of social democrats, greens and leftists ratified the ban on purchasing sexual services in the Swedish parliament in 1999, conservatives were the legislation's main opponents. They argued that the ban would drive prostitution underground and make life more difficult for the women.

We have significantly less prostitution than our neighboring countries, even if we take into account the fact that some of it happens underground, says Police Inspector Jonas Trolle. We only have between 105 and 130 women -- both on the Internet and on the street -- active (in prostitution) in Stockholm today. In Oslo, it's 5,000.

Despite the prostitution ban, the number of convictions in Sweden is surprisingly low. Although a handful of pimps are sentenced to several years in prison each year, customers have so far managed to get away with fines and having their names entered in police registers. The purchase of sex is difficult to prove, says Trolle. Johns have to be caught in the act. Besides, he adds, it has taken time for members of the police force to accept the law. The number of convicted johns has climbed from 11 in 1999 to 108 in 2006.

Prostitutes themselves are, for the most part, opposed to the criminalization of their customers. They feel that they are being pushed into the role of victim and that the ban robs them of their livelihood. One working girl said: When things are slow, the way they are tonight, I'm also willing to go with guys who want to get a little rough with me and don't want to use a condom. I need the money.

Another said that she has been around long enough to remember the days before the ban on purchasing sex was introduced. The nice customers are afraid of being caught, she says. All that's left are the more troubled ones, those with whom you have to drive far out of the city so that they'll feel safe from the police. It puts you at their mercy.

Health care professionals have mixed feelings about the ban. Cases of abuse and rape have increased considerably. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases has also gone up among streetwalkers because the lack of johns forces them to have sex without a condom, says Helena Cewers, a nurse who has been working for more than 15 years in an admission clinic for drug-addicted women in Malmö and knows almost every hooker in the city.

 

14th November    Trafficking in Hype ...
   
Human trafficking evokes outrage but little evidence
SenateOutrage was mounting at the 1999 hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, where congressmen were learning about human trafficking.

A woman from Nepal testified that September that she had been drugged, abducted and forced to work at a brothel in Bombay. A Christian activist recounted tales of women overseas being beaten with electrical cords and raped. A State Department official said Congress must act -- 50,000 slaves were pouring into the United States every year, she said. Furious about the "tidal wave" of victims, Representative Christopher H. Smith vowed to crack down on so-called modern-day slavery.

The next year, Congress passed a law, triggering a little-noticed worldwide war on human trafficking that began at the end of the Clinton administration and is now a top Bush administration priority. As part of the fight, President Bush has blanketed the nation with 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million -- all to find and help the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims of forced prostitution or labor in the United States.

But the government couldn't find them. Not in this country.

The administration has identified 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 a year the government had estimated.
Ronald Weitzer, a criminologist at George Washington University and an expert on sex trafficking, said that trafficking is a hidden crime whose victims often fear coming forward. He said that might account for some of the disparity in the numbers, but only a small amount.

The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases they've been able to make is so huge that it's got to raise major questions, Weitzer said: It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.

See also:

The New Abolitionists

Freeing 'sex slaves' is now at the top of the human rights agenda, thanks to Christian evangelicals, the Bush administration, and two former Washington politicians, Linda Smith and John Miller. How did the anti-trafficking crusade evolve, and is it being overhyped?

Unholy Alliance

Some feminists are in bed with the Christian Right, helping secure foreign policy that works against women in the sex trade.

Abolitionists of the world: same tactics, same shady dealings

Prostitution abolitionists, along with groups from the conservative, religious right, all denounce the funding of organizations working for the rights of sex workers. This funding for the most part comes from budgets allocated to the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to these abolitionists, sex workers' organizations promote prostitution and therefore they indignantly accuse the funding agencies of themselves being complicit in promoting prostitution.

  Update:

Bush's Other Global War

27th November 2007

From Donald

The point is that it's George Bush's other global war, and just as with WMDs it seems like the sex slaves don't exist or at least not in the number the christian right and radical feminists claim

This article is very interesting, written by the respected researcher Ronald Weitzer at the George Washington University.

The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and Institutionalization of a Moral Crusade

The issue of sex trafficking has become increasingly politicized in recent years due to the efforts of an influential moral crusade. This article examines the social construction of sex trafficking (and prostitution more generally) in the discourse of leading activists and organizations within the crusade, and concludes that the central claims are problematic, unsubstantiated, or demonstrably false. The analysis documents the increasing endorsement and institutionalization of crusade ideology in U.S. government policy and practice.
see below

 

13th November    New Labour...New Criminals ...
   
Denis MacShane MP supports criminalisation of P4P
Denis MacShaneDenis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, has called for action to reduce the ever growing demand of men to have paid-for sex with under-age sex slaves imported into Britain by gangs of traffickers. The Rotherham MP and former Europe Minister told the Commons that unless men were made to accept their responsibility as the buyers of sex the chances of reducing the supply of sex slaves were zero.

He said that London was now Europe's capital for under-age trafficked sex slaves and until action was taken to curb the men buying sex, the appalling abuse of girl sex slaves would continue. He said that women ministers were sympathetic to the campaign but the 'lads' in the cabinet had to be persuaded.

Last year MacShane led the campaign to get Britain to sign up to the European Convention aimed at limiting trafficking. But now he says, the position is even worse. There are an estimated 25,000 girls, many of them under the age of 18, trafficked into Britain to meet the demand for men to have sex in exchange for money. Up to now, it has been the women who are treated as criminals. Women become double victims. They are beaten up  and raped as preparation for working in massage parlours and other modern brothels, or they become victims of pimps in order to earn money to pay for drugs or escape financial debt. Then when the police take some action, it is usually the women who get arrested and the men whose money helps prostitution flourish are never challenged, let alone named and shamed.

I think we have to turn the debate on its head. It is men who should be prosecuted for paying for sex. Paying for sex with a girl under 18 is technically rape. But there has not been one successful prosecution of a man for such rape. The pimps and traffickers are laughing all the way to their offshore bank accounts. It is by tackling the demand and making paid-for sex a crime that we can begin to reduce supply.

MacShane is working with other MPs to seek an amendment to the criminal justice act currently being debated in parliament to make paying for sex a crime. Such measures have dramatically cut trafficking and prostitution in other countries like Sweden.
 

  Pen in handComment: Letter to the Rotherham MPS

Thanks to Shaun

Dear Mr Healey, and Dr. MacShane,

I read in the Rotherham Advertiser this week about Dr. Denis MacShane's current crusade to criminalise people who pay to use the intimate services of sex workers with extreme anger and irritation.

Yes, there may be a concern about people being brought illegally into our country, to work in the sex industry, however that should be dealt with as a completely SEPARATE issue and those responsible for the trafficking caught and severely dealt with. But people using the services of women (or men for that matter) who are working FREELY out of THEIR OWN CHOICE should NOT be criminalised.

Again this is this yet another example of our absolutely appalling Labour government having NO REGARD WHATSOEVER for the rights and freedoms of the British people, and NOT DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES PROPERLY.

What about the plight of people who are disabled, disfigured, or simply very shy etc., who are unable to enjoy the relevant experiences in the normal way, via normal relationships ? Not everyone is as fortunate as the readers of this letter might be remember. Please cast yourselves in their role for a change, and use some imagination will you ? What would YOU do, in the longer term ?

IS DR. MACSHANE AWARE that I know a chap LIVING IN HIS CONSTITUENCY who for various reasons has NEVER had a partner in the usual sense, and regularly relies solely on the services of female sex workers? Knowing him as I do, I am sure he would be extremely concerned if any of them were working against their will.

SHALL I GO AND TELL HIM that DR. DENIS MACSHANE, his "RT HON" MP now wants to TURN HIM INTO A CRIMINAL ? This is completely and utterly SHAMEFUL Dr. Macshane.

There should be nothing illegal or wrong about someone who is perhaps unmarried, and (for whatever reason) unable to establish a normal relationship, who therefore uses the (paid for) intimate services of another, provided they were were offering those services willingly. If a girl spoke with a good old Yorkshire accent, it would be reasonably obvious she was not being trafficked wouldn't it ?

The proper answer to this issue is of course to allow those people to work LEGALLY and openly, within some regulatory framework, and to deal properly with anyone not working within that, and with anyone forcing people to work against their wishes.

I am sure their clients could help in this, by being encouraged to report anyone they suspected (anonymously of course) was being forced into sex slavery. If enough reports were collected about a particular individual, then the authorities could investigate. If the establishments were legal, then such matters would be easier to investigate.

Not only that, the girls themselves would soon learn that they could ask their clients for assistance, instead of helping to turn their clients into CRIMINALS as Dr. MACSHANE seems to want.

BUT NO...<sigh>

...the only "solution" our apparently ever more repressive and unimaginative MPs can ever seem to come up with is simply to turn EVEN MORE people into criminals. Why not simply do what the character "Pascal Savage", in the film Johnny English failed to do, and turn just the place into one gigantic prison and criminalise the lot of us ? Under New Labour I am sure we ALL must be doing something wrong. Discussion by individuals is going on everywhere, regarding onslaught of our freedoms in this country under a government which I USED to staunchly support. Never again mind you. I am not alone either.

I can FULLY understand people who use the services of prostitutes. I lived alone for almost seven years, after a relationship failed in my early twenties. I was almost tempted to use such people myself, and would have done, had I remained single for much longer. I WOULD THEN BE A CRIMINAL in the eyes of Dr. MacShane, and Ms H. Harman and others.

Please, please STOP this incessant criminalisation of the British People. It is now becoming a real cause for genuine concern.

I am now starting to STRONGLY RESENT every DAY that "NEW LABOUR" remains in power. They are becoming a COMPLETE MENACE to our rights and freedoms.

I remember meeting Dr. MacShane, when he visited our former offices, I thought Dr. MacShane was a rational and level headed kind of fellow. I hope this remains the case, and he will therefore consider the other side of this issue, and and encourage alternative options.

One will NEVER STOP people using such services. One might as well make it illegal to drink water. Even in countries like IRAN they have sex workers, some who would face the death penalty there. So all one will achieve here is turn otherwise LAW ABIDING people into NEW CRIMINALS, and simply RUIN THEIR lives as well. What purpose will that serve ? What if they DO have families of their own ? What of the possibility of the increase in RAPE etc., if such services are no longer available ?

This kind of repression is NO LONGER acceptable chaps.

Sorry if I seem angry and abrupt here, but I feel that what I have said, needs saying, in a forthright manner.

NEW LABOUR? NEW CRIMINALS?

ps Further to my recent email on the subject of sex workers and their clients, which was prompted by comments in this weeks "Rotherham Advertiser", I am sure Dr. Macshane in particular will have an interest in what the European union's Council of Europe has to say about the matter:

Prostitution – which stance to take? Resolution 1579 (2007)

In particular, I draw your attention to paragraph 6:

6. As an organisation based on human rights and respect for human dignity, the Council of Europe should take a stance on prostitution which reflects its core mission. Basing one's judgment on respect for human dignity does not mean taking a moralistic approach, however. It means respecting people's decisions and choices as long as they harm no-one else.

It is acknowledged in the above document that the"neo abolitionist" approach favoured by Sweden and Dr. Macshane still forces prostitution underground. Of course the clients of under-aged girls should be prosecuted with the full force of the law. New laws could enforce that, but there are already existing laws which would allow this, and they should be used.

Demonising and belittling girls as Dr. Macshane seems to do, in his rather pathetic statement: Just ask if you would want your daughter to become a massage parlour worker

Does not help one iota. As one who has a young daughter myself, the answer would be a definite no. However I wouldn't really want her to become a scullery maid or servant girl either.

However I ALSO FEEL SHE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT to choose for herself what she decides to do when she becomes a freeborn(?) adult,, and if she did CHOOSE to work in a massage establishment she should not AUTOMATICALLY be forced to deal with CRIMINALS because her clients would be CRIMINALS under Dr. MacShane's repressive policy wouldn't they ? As such she would be dealing with the worst of people; those who really don't give a stuff about such laws. Instead she should have the right to work within a legal framework, voluntarily, having freely made such a choice.

Denis MacShane

Reply: Denis MacShane Admits Being on a Different Planet

Dear Sir,

I do not know if you are a constituent of mine. I note your view that you have no objections to your daughter working as a prostitute. I think we inhabit different worlds.

The Council of Europe position has caused very great concern amongst many of its members and will come under review.

Denis MacShane MP

 

11th November    Respecting Human Rights ...
   
Council of Europe pass resolution to decriminalise voluntary prostitution
EU logoThe Council of Europe has adopted a resolution on 4th October 2007 that is very much relevant to moves to criminalise prostitution for customers. Much of the resolution is to do with actions against trafficking and child prostitution but the relevant sections about adult consensual prostitution is very positive

From Prostitution – which stance to take? Resolution 1579 (2007)

4. Regarding voluntary prostitution, defined as prostitution exercised by persons over the age of 18 having chosen prostitution as a means to make a living of their own accord, the Assembly notes that the approaches adopted in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe vary widely. Historically, three different approaches can be defined, prohibitionist, regulationist and abolitionist. Sweden has recently invented a new approach which is generally defined as neo-abolitionist.

5. About a third of Council of Europe member states (17) subscribe to the prohibitionist approach, which prohibits prostitution and penalises prostitutes and pimps alike (although not necessarily clients). A substantial minority of member states (9) subscribe to the regulationist approach, which seeks to regulate rather than prohibit or abolish prostitution. The relative majority of member states can be considered abolitionist (20), which means they seek to abolish prostitution by penalising procurers and pimps rather than prostitutes. Sweden's neo-abolitionist approach takes the abolitionist logic one step further and penalises the clients.

6. As an organisation based on human rights and respect for human dignity, the Council of Europe should take a stance on prostitution which reflects its core mission. Basing one's judgment on respect for human dignity does not mean taking a moralistic approach, however. It means respecting people's decisions and choices as long as they harm no-one else.

...

11.3. concerning voluntary adult prostitution, Council of Europe member states should formulate an explicit policy on prostitution; they must avoid double standards and policies which force prostitutes underground or into the arms of pimps, which only make prostitutes more vulnerable, instead they should seek to empower them, in particular by:

11.3.1. refraining from criminalising and penalising prostitutes and developing programmes to assist prostitutes to leave the profession should they wish to do so;

11.3.2. addressing personal vulnerabilities of prostitutes, such as mental health problems, low self-esteem and childhood neglect or abuse, as well as drug abuse;

11.3.3. addressing structural problems (poverty, political instability/war, gender inequality, differential opportunity, lack of education and training), including in countries from which prostitutes originate, to prevent people being "forced" into prostitution by circumstances;

11.3.4. ensuring prostitutes have access to and enough independence to impose safe sexual practices on their clients;

11.3.5. respecting the right of prostitutes who freely choose to work as a prostitute to have a say in any policies on the national, regional and local level concerning them;

11.3.6. ending the abuse of power by the police and other public authorities towards prostitutes by developing special training programmes for them.

80% of the Council voted in favour (and of those who voted against it, 1/3 came from Sweden...It caused an uproar in Sweden that 1 Swede voted in favour)

 

9th November    Women's Institution Intuition ...
   
WI calls for designated safe areas for working girls
Women's Institute logoMembers of the Women's Institute want to see brothels legalised. They say councils should try to protect prostitutes by providing designated safe working areas.

The resolution was passed by the 6,000-strong Hampshire County Federation of WIs. The issue will now be debated by the organisation nationally.

Jean Johnson said: It seems to be a sensible way forward to legalise brothels. We all know it goes on and it's the best way we can protect the women who work on the streets in big cities.

We are not trying to help the men who use prostitutes. We are trying to help the women who end up as prostitutes. They should be allowed to work in a clean and safe environment.


The WI, which has more than 211,000 members, campaigned for equal pay for women in 1942 and for the government to invest in Aids research in 1986.

 

15th November  Update:  Support for Women ...
   
Bishop of Portsmouth registers support for WI prostitution stance
Women's Institute logoThe Roman Catholic bishop of Portsmouth is backing a campaign to legalise brothels.

The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis says he does not condone prostitution but supports the controversial campaign launched by Hampshire Women's Institute to license brothels, reports his local newspaper in Portsmouth.

At their autumn conference more than 200 WI groups voted unanimously in favour of council-licensed brothels to protect prostitutes, and are now working towards a national campaign.

Bishop Hollis told the Portsmouth News: If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there's a need to make sure it's as well- regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves.

That's not to say I approve of prostitution in any way. I don't. I would be very much happier if there was no prostitution in Portsmouth or anywhere else because I do regard those involved in any way as involved in some form of immorality.

But it's going to be there whatever we do – it has been from time immemorial, so I think that's something we have to be realistic about.

Mary King, of North End and Southsea WI, said the support was very welcome: We do have a lot of Christians in the WI but nobody raised any religious or moral issues against the motion. We can't live in a bubble. These things do exist and until you stop people wanting to use prostitutes we've got to do what's best for the people concerned.

Rachel Frost, from the International Union for Sex Workers, said: The bishop should be commended for having the guts to come out and say that. It's surprising sometimes where support comes from but if it moves things forward, makes things safer and creates an environment with more respect, we welcome this kind of forward thinking.

Deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council Alex Bentley said: The WI are very brave in making the assertion and they're probably right. It works very well in continental countries where brothels are licensed and appropriate medical advice is given.

 

5th November  Comment:  A Call to Action ...
   
Against the criminalisation of sex worker clients

Puritans

Gordon Brown's ministerial team.
Left to right:
Women's Issues,
Patriotism & Jingoism,
Religious Observance,
Fun & Recreation,
Men's Issues 

I think this is the time for concerted action against proposals for criminalisation of sex worker clients. I have twelve ideas, and hope people will add, and take action. There needs to be:

  1. A web forum set up specifically for those opposed to the criminalisation of clients, for communication and organisation, with sections for announcements ,media coverage, and lobbying, and with a link from this site
     
  2. A website with a summary of arguments against the proposals for ready reference, together with a summary of progress of the campaign, as a resource for all those in support, readily searchable in google under `decriminalise/legalise` and `clients/punters/prostitution/sex work`
     
  3. A list of known famous and illustrious figures who are/were clients eg President Kennedy,to prevent demonisation of clients
     
  4. Links with opposition elements in Sweden, to enable the proposals to be attacked from within, and affiliation to the Coalition for Decriminalisation of Sex Work here.
     
  5. A list of organisations and partys likely to be sympathetic. eg Liberal Democrats,Green Party, some Labour & conservative MPs, etc to assist co-ordination of opposition
     
  6. Consideration of possible forms of action against the proposals. eg petitions , meetings with MPs , lobbying of MPs etc
     
  7. Consideration of any legal precedents. eg was the Swedish legislation challenged under the European Convention, and were any angles left out.
     
  8. Monitoring of media coverage, developments in opposition forums etc to be aware of developments early & able to respond effectively.
     
  9. A contact list of Newspapers, TV/radio stations , and journalists likely to be supportive , for ready reference. eg responses to Guardian and Sun articles by their readers consistently show readership 60-80% want decriminalisation, not further criminalisation , and the Times has been supportive.
     
  10. People who are prepared to robustly respond to newspaper articles, and experienced people who are prepared to appear in the media to rebut calls for criminalisation.
     
  11. Links with the disabled community, 3/4 of whom support decriminalisation (Disability Now 2005),including people prepared to speak out against criminalisation
     
  12. A contact list of academics and researchers likely to be against criminalisation.
    All of the NOP/Mori polls on sexual attitudes show over 3/4 of the population are against criminalisation of prostitutes and clients. What has been lacking up to now is a concerted campaign to reflect these attitudes
    I believe it is possible to stave off calls for criminalisation and persue a more enlightened policy, but it will take concerted effort. I do hope people will reply with constructive suggestions only on how to further this.

 

5th November  Comment:  Further Underground ...
   
By the English Collective of Prostitutes

Humps for 1/2 mileNew proposals to clamp down on safer forms of prostitution will only push sex workers further underground, says the English Collective of Prostitutes

What is so shocking about adverts for escorts in local papers? Why does Harriet Harman want to clamp down on the safer ways women have found to work?

Following the tragic Ipswich murders, we called together a Safety First Coalition of nurses, doctors, church people, probation officers, anti-poverty campaigners, sex workers and others, to ensure that women are not repeatedly placed in danger.

We believe that there can be no protection while sex workers are being hounded, and campaign for prostitution to be decriminalised and for proper economic alternatives for women who want to get out of prostitution. Whatever people may think about sex work, women's safety must be the priority.

The government is using people's widespread concern for women and children's safety to clamp down on all sex workers. Yet most immigrant sex workers are not trafficked, and those who are, do not benefit from this approach.

Anti-trafficking raids such as Pentameter 1 and 2 have not resulted in vulnerable women being 'rescued' but in an increase in immigrant sex workers being deported. Women and children who are being kept in forced labour, whether in the sex or agricultural industry or in domestic work, have said repeatedly that the biggest deterrent to reporting violence is fear of arrest and deportation.

Surely, the best way to help victims of pimps or traffickers is to make sure they can report their persecutors and see them arrested and convicted. For this, a place of safety, ongoing protection, resources and the right to stay, are needed. But none of these measures are forthcoming.

Instead, women are being driven onto the streets by raids on premises where it is many times safer to work, and new laws such as Clause 72 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007, want to force street workers into 'rehabilitation' by moral police under threat of prison. Preventing advertising in local papers is part of this repressive trend which is pushing sex workers further underground.

Prostitute women who face so much discrimination, arrest and imprisonment have had little support from feminists, beginning with those in positions of power. The most vocal have often looked down on sex workers, promoting the moralistic view that sex work is uniquely degrading, and have backed police raids against us.

They have refused to hear what sex workers have to say, preferring instead to decide on our behalf what is 'good for them'. As a result there are now NGOs which are taking millions in Home Office grants to 'help' victims of trafficking, while helping to deport 'rescued' women back to the poverty they fled.

Tackling women's poverty has never been the priority. Ms. Harman was the spokeswoman for New Labour's first measure to cut single mothers' benefits – at a stroke forcing more women into the sex industry. Her government has promoted such obscenities as the war in Iraq which, in addition to causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, is forcing millions into destitution, exile and, of course, prostitution. If she abhors obscenity in advertising, what about abolishing arms fairs?

 

31st October    Goggins in Ulster ...
   
Kerb crawling to be outlawed in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland flagNutter politicians have responded positively after Policing Minister Paul Goggins told the Commons Northern Ireland Grand Committee he plans to introduce legislation next year to outlaw the practice of men cruising the streets looking for prostitutes.

Former Lord Mayor, the SDLP's Pat McCarthy, whose council ward represents the area, said: Kerb crawling is an absolute plague for residential areas and I am quite sure that it even deters some business investment. A ban will mean that people will have the right to seek proper protection from the police and ensure that their community functions as they want it to.

After Mr Goggins disclosed details to a Commons Grand Committee, the Northern Ireland Office confirmed that details would be released before Christmas.

A spokeswoman said: Draft legislation containing proposed new offences on kerb crawling and soliciting will be published before the end of the year.

The proposals will form part of the Sexual Offences Order which will go out for further public consultation.

When a spokesman for the NIO was asked if the new legislation would legalise "mini-brothels" which had been proposed in consultation, she said: In July 2006 the Government published a policy consultation on reforming the law on sexual offences. The views expressed following that consultation have been considered and draft legislation will be published before the end of the year.

Asked about the policy of legalising "mini-brothels" in the UK, a Home Office spokesman said: The proposal to amend the definition of a brothel to enable two or three women to work from a private premises in order to increase their safety remains an important part of the Government's Prostitution Strategy, although initial work on implementation has focused very much on street-based sex markets and the commercial sexual exploitation of children and those who have been trafficked.

Concerns have been raised about the potential impact of such a change and so we intend to consult further to ensure that the proposal would achieve our objectives of increasing safety, without inadvertently causing more difficulties, either for enforcement agencies, the women involved or for their neighbours.

 

25th October    Criminal Injustice ...
   
Amendment proposed to make paying for sex illegal in Britain

  House of Commons logo

Philip Hollobone (Conservative MP for Kettering) has proposed an new clause to be added to the already huge Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. Hollobone, a keen bell-ringer and former investment banker, proposes that paying for sex should be made a criminal offence.

Mr Philip Hollobone - Paying for sexual services (NC8)

To move the following Clause:

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if -
(a) he intentionally obtains for himself the sexual services of another person (B), and
(b) before obtaining those services, he has made or promised payment for those services
to B or third person, or knows that another person has made or promised such a payment.

(2) In this section "payment" means any financial advantage, including the discharge
of an obligation to pay or the provision of goods or services (including sexual
services) gratuitously or at a discount.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction,
to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the
statutory maximum or both.

 

16th November  Update:  An Unpopular Clause ...
   
Criminal Injustice committee to consider buying sex

  House of Commons logo

It looks like the Criminal Injustice Bill Committee will be considering clause 72, and the clauses relating to sex work next.

So now is a good time for those on this forum to argue against further criminalisation of sex workers and clients, particularly in view of how unpopular such moves are with the the public in conjunction with the Governments current hammering in the polls.

To recap on clause 72

Philip Hollobone (Conservative MP for Kettering) proposes that paying for sex should be made a criminal offence. Wants to add a clause 8.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if -
(a) he intentionally obtains for himself the sexual services of another person (B), and
(b) before obtaining those services, he has made or promised payment for those services
to B or third person, or knows that another person has made or promised such a payment.

(2) In this section "payment" means any financial advantage, including the discharge
of an obligation to pay or the provision of goods or services (including sexual
services) gratuitously or at a discount.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction,
to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the
statutory maximum or both.

 

29th November  Update:  Coaker Doesn't Buy It ...
   
Clause criminalising paying for sex not adopted
House of Commons logoAn interesting discussion in the CJIB committee, where Philip Hollobone's amendment was debated . Vernon Coaker was unconvinced.

The question to make a new clause to the Bill was not put. Hollobone could introduce it again when it comes back for the third reading, but I guess we have seen the last of this particular attempt to criminalise P4P.

 

16th October    Mean Minded ...
   
Nutters suggest paying for sex should be a 'serious' sex offence

Women's Support Project logoA Scottish nutters study of men who buy sex from prostitutes has found most would be deterred if their names were put on the sex offenders register as punishment.

Preliminary findings from interviews with more than 100 men aged 18-77, who had kerb-crawled, used saunas and illegal brothels for sexual services, found 88% would stop using prostitutes if "named and shamed" on the register, used to identify anyone cautioned, convicted or released from prison for serious sex offences.

The Glasgow-based Scottish Women's Group, which campaigns to protect women and children, paid the men £20 each to be interviewed after they responded to adverts in newspapers.

They were questioned about circumstances in which they bought sex, their personal relationships, views about women in the sex trade and what they thought were the most effective punishments. It formed part of an international study, including research into male users in India, Spain and the US.

Researchers found 85% of men would be deterred if their photographs and/or names were displayed on billboards following conviction for kerb-crawling, which became an offence under laws brought into force last week. Some 83% said they would not seek paid sex if their details were published in local newspapers, and 77% said they same if they were "named and shamed" on the internet.

Researchers found 68% and 69% of men respectively would be deterred by heavier fines, such as those introduced with the new laws, or if their vehicles were impounded.

However, 55% said being forced to attend an educational scheme to learn about the damage prostitution does to women would not stop them.

Jan Macleod, development officer with the Women's Support Project, warned prostitutes face being criminalised if the register was used for kerb-crawlers and other sex users: Naming and shaming men would clearly have a huge impact, but I would not like to see women put on the register.

The survey was carried out for Dr Melissa Farley of the Prostitution, Research & Education (PRE) group in San Francisco.

Pauline McNeill, Labour's shadow justice secretary, described the research as interesting. She said: The focus must be on encouraging the courts to use the full powers made available to them. I also expect there to be more convictions as a direct result.

The government is currently consulting focus groups of men who use prostitutes for a campaign. A spokesman said no date had been set for its launch.

The preliminary results of the study will be released at Challenging Demand 2, a conference organised by the Scottish Women's Group on Wednesday in the Teacher Building, St Enoch Square, Glasgow.

Extreme Mean Mindedness

Also on the agenda at the Scottish Government-funded conference, Scottish Women's Support will be launching educational packs about the supposed harm done by the increased availability of extreme pornography on the internet.

Scottish Women's Support believes the increasingly extreme nature of many pornography websites and computer games is affecting what young people see as acceptable behaviour.

Jan McLeod, of Women's Support, said: What is severely lacking is an open and public discussion about the content of pornography.

Comment: Promoting Gender Inequality

Thanks to Alan Re: "Jan Macleod, development officer with the Women's Support Project, warned prostitutes face being criminalised if the register was used for kerb-crawlers and other sex users: Naming and shaming men would clearly have a huge impact, but I would not like to see women put on the register." Does Macleod really mean this? At face value it seems to mean that a man engaging the services of a prostitute (including gay men with rent boys) would be guilty of an offence, while women engaging a gigolo wouldn't.

 

9th October    Kerbside Publicity ...
   
Scottish police outline plans to persecute kerb-crawlers

Scottish Police emblemScotland's largest police force will adopt an aggressive approach to tackling kerb-crawlers after the introduction of new legislation next week which will leave convicted victims facing hefty fines.

John Neilson, Strathclyde Police's assistant chief constable with responsibility for community safety, told the Sunday Herald his officers would not take a softly-softly approach after receiving new powers in the Prostitution (Public Places) Act on October 15.

His comments came as drugs workers and women's groups expressed fears over the lack of publicity from the Scottish government in the run-up to the legislation, which means anyone caught soliciting sex, or simply loitering in red-light zones, could be fined up to £1000.

The Sunday Herald has found the four forces affected by the legislation are adopting widely differing approaches to highlighting the new legislation. Local authorities have received £1 million from the government for initiatives. Tayside Police has printed leaflets which will be handed out to motorists in a residential area of Dundee. Lothian and Borders said there were no immediate plans to repeat the high-profile campaign they carried out in Edinburgh earlier this year. Grampian said there were no plans for a campaign.

Neilson, spokesman on prostitution for the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (Acpos) believes the legislation will be effective.

The act provides an "inference" test, which means the courts will be able to take into account the circumstances in which any accused was found in deciding on their guilt. However, the final decision on the law will be left to individual fiscals and the police, based on Crown Office and Acpos guidelines.

Although Strathclyde Police are not planning an initial media campaign, Neilson said his force's handling of the new powers would be reviewed after the first three months. He said: I don't think we will have a softly-softly approach. We are not going to do any high-profile enforcement at this time because that would be disproportionate in terms of people's understanding of the law, but we will be using the legislation.

Tayside Police have printed a leaflet, in four languages, which will be handed out to motorists in known prostitution haunts in a joint initiative with the city council's Antisocial Behaviour Unit. It warns that under the law kerb-crawlers could be made to sign Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs), which would be sent to their homes, and could be given antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) if persistently caught loitering or kerb-crawling in a particular area.

In addition, £200,000 of government funding will be spent on schemes to help prostitutes escape from the lifestyle.

However, one senior drugs worker who helps prostitutes in Aberdeen has warned that a management zone, in which prostitution has been "tolerated" by the authorities in several city centre streets since 2000, is likely to end.

Senga McDonald, a co-ordinator of the city's Drugs Action team, said: The biggest fear here is the legislation will move the problem, making it less visible and the women less easy to protect. It may take some people off the streets, but women will go where their clients are, possibly leading to more dangerous practices in places where there is a lack of high-profile policing and CCTV.

Injustice minister Kenny MacAskill said: Working with our local partners, including the police, we are determined to play our part in making it clear to the kerb-crawlers that buying sex on our streets is unacceptable.

A government spokesman said it was planning "direct media publicity" to launch the new legislation and was holding discussions on further publicity with police and local agencies.

 

19th October  Update:  Kerbside Repression ...
   
Law against kerb-crawlers in force in Scotland

Scottish Police emblemMore than 400 kerb crawlers have been caught by police harassing customers in Scotland's red light zones.

Officers yesterday warned the operation was being stepped up and customers using company cars would be arrested at work under repressive new laws.

Police in Edinburgh recently revealed they stopped 400 men cruising in the city's dockland red light district in Leith.

Forces in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen are planning similar opertion over the next few weeks to warn drivers of the new legislation.

In Edinburgh, drivers were pulled over in Leith docks area, including Salamander Street and Leith Links, and had their registration plates and personal details logged.

The new legislation includes an offence of "loitering" in a car, with maximum fines of £1000 and the risk of having their cars confiscated for persistent offenders.

Lothian and Borders police chiefs described the "intelligence gathering" crackdown a "massive success".

The man behind the operation, Inspector Dennis Hunter, said: We wanted to ensure that kerb crawlers know our officers are watching them.

Kerb crawlers were also warned officers may visit them at home if they persistently return to the red light district.

Inspector Hunter added: Anyone using a company car risks being visited at their office, which I am sure, could prove very embarrassing.

 



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