Prostitution is a form of commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation persists as a result of how women are viewed by society.
The Scottish Government's
definition of gender based violence is clearly set out in Equally Safe, Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls:
Gender based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of
male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of
liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as 'gender based' this definition highlights the need to
understand violence within the context of women's and girl's subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence
women's vulnerability to violence
Equally Safe Priority 4 states the Scottish Government's priority to ensure men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and
effective response. This violence includes the violence perpetrated by men in relation to acts of commercial sexual exploitation, of which prostitution is one aspect.
The consultation is being taken forward under Equally Safe and
fulfils the 2019-20 Programme for Government commitment to consult on approaches to challenge men's demand for prostitution, continue to support work to reduce the harms associated with commercial sexual exploitation and help women to exit prostitution.
The aim of the consultation is to gather views on how best to challenge men's demand for prostitution in Scotland, reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit. The consultation paper
invites views from a wide range of readers including key stakeholders, statutory partners, those who work in the sector to challenge men's demand for prostitution, support women and those who may have lived experience to help inform the development of
future approaches to prostitution in Scotland.
Scottish Labour is set to announce a manifesto pledge to prosecute men who buy sex.
Bizarrely the party claims that selling sex can be somehow legal whilst buying it is illegal. Surely the sex workers would be clearly inciting their customers to
commit an offence.
Its manifesto, to be unveiled on Wednesday, will state:
Scottish Labour aims to tackle commercial sexual exploitation by challenging demand and by supporting those involved. It has a
three-pronged framework: criminalising the buying of sex, decriminalising people involved in prostitution, and providing long-term support and exiting services for those exploited through prostitution.
ScotPep, the sex workers' rights
charity, said during the last Holyrood session that it did not agree with the policy, fearing that it could put women in more danger and challenging the assertion that all sex workers are victims .
Scottish sex workers are supporting proposed changes in the law to make them safer as they host a gathering in Glasgow to raise awareness of the issue.
Organisations and charities have backed independent MSP Jean Urquhart's proposals to decriminalise
prostitution in Scotland.
Her proposed Prostitution Law Reform (Scotland) Bill would permit more than one sex worker to work from the same premises. A lone sex worker based at home is currently operating within the law but at much greater risk of
violence and theft, while two or more sex workers sharing a space for safety are breaking the law.
Urquhart wants up to four sex workers to be permitted to work collectively from the same premises and a licensing system to be brought in for
premises in which more than four sex workers operate.
Sex worker charity ScotPep, grassroots collective the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) and community health Project Umbrella Lane support the changes. Speaking ahead of the gathering to mark
the international Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Urquhart said:
When I started speaking with sex workers in Scotland I was struck by what they told me about how the law makes them less safe. It should be
unconscionable that the law makes sex workers so vulnerable to violence and I'm proud to have brought forward proposals that are based on what people who sell sex say will keep them safe.
Proposals to decriminalise prostitution and pave the way for legal brothels have been put forward at Holyrood.
The plans include allowing more than one prostitute to work from the same premises and giving sex workers more employment rights in the
workplace. It is based on New Zealand's arrangement for legal prostitution.
Independent Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart said:
Sex workers have been systematically ignored while laws which expose them to
violence and stigma have been preserved or extended.
These proposals take on board not only the experience and concerns of sex workers, but also reflect a growing international consensus that what sex workers most need is safety
and labour rights, not the risks which come from criminalisation. Human rights
Nadine Stott, co-chairwoman of sex worker rights charity Scot-Pep, said:
The purchase and sale of sex is currently
legal, but in general, the law prevents sex workers from being able to work safely, and that must end.
There is no reason why sex work should only be permissible if a single person works alone in their flat, for example. That law
leaves sex workers vulnerable to violence and exploitation, as do the current laws on street-based sex work, which also seriously hamper sex workers' ability to move on to other work.
Dr Marsha Scott, Scottish Women's Aid chief
Fundamentally, we would welcome any proposals that make women - and anyone involved in prostitution - safer, healthier, and more likely to enjoy a full range of human rights.
believe that giving them access to safety, protection, healthcare and support, as well as economic independence are of paramount importance.
Glasgow City Council has long been a hotbed of PC extremists who advocate that jailing men and destroying their families is a price worth paying so that councillors can feel good about their 'equality'.
Councillor James Coleman has called upon
Justice Minister Michael Matheson to make a public commitment to target and challenge men's demand for paid-for sexual services. He said:
We support the current Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill but
believe it is limited by the fact it does not adequately address the cause of commercial sexual exploitation.
We are also fully supportive of the Scottish Government's 'Equally Safe' strategy, which recognises prostitution and
trafficking as forms of commercial sexual exploitation that ultimately harm women.
The city council agreed to call upon the Justice Minister to address the issue of demand, and to introduce comprehensive legislation in Scotland to
criminalise the purchase of sex and to decriminalise and support those exploited through prostitution. The motion, which was seconded by SNP group leader Susan Aitken, was agreed at a meeting of the full council.
Legislation to tackle human trafficking and better protect its victims will be debated by MSPs. The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill was brought forward by the Scottish Government to strengthen existing criminal law against the practice and
enhance the status of and support for victims.
Moralist campaigners inevitably called for the buying of sex to be criminalised as part of the legislation. Churches and Christian organisations proclaimed that the Bill offers a golden opportunity
to make the purchase of sex illegal.
But others such as Amnesty argue that conflating human trafficking and prostitution within one piece of legislation will not do justice to either issue.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said earlier
this year that he would meet campaigners on both sides before the Scottish Government comes to a final position on the matter. But after taking evidence from a range of groups and organisations, the committee concluded the legislation was not the right
vehicle for addressing the issue of criminalising the buying of sex.
Churches and other religious organisations have written to the Scottish first minister calling for the criminalisation of those who pay for sex.
The letter was written by Professor Hazel Watson, convener of the Scottish Churches' anti-human
trafficking group, and signed by senior figures from a variety of other faith groups, including Muslims and Sikhs She claims:
Sex trafficking does not just exist because its victims are vulnerable - it exists because
there is a demand for commercial sex that traffickers can exploit and profit from
Watson praised the Scottish government for introducing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill. But she said:
We believe that there is an important element missing from the Bill and would urge you to consider supporting an amendment.
It would be good to see Scotland incorporating the Nordic model, with a funding
package supporting women to leave prostitution, into its anti-trafficking legislation.
Sex trafficking does not just exist because its victims are vulnerable - it exists because there is a demand for commercial sex that
traffickers can exploit and profit from.
The Nordic model effectively curbs demand and consequently reduces the trafficking for sexual exploitation into the countries that adopt it.
The Scottish government said
in a statement:
Clearly this is a complex issue which requires careful consideration to ensure that any additional measures which may be required are necessary, practicable and sustainable.
further proposed changes to the law in this area would need to be considered carefully to ensure they are practical in terms of enforcement and whether there is robust evidence to suggest that such proposals would reduce incidents of prostitution or
Sex workers have complained they are being excluded from a Holyrood meeting to discuss legal moves to criminalise clients.
SCOT-PEP, which promotes sex workers' rights, say it has been barred from a meeting despite having been previously invited to
give input into the debate. The charity opposes a proposal by Labour's Rhoda Grant to make it an offence to pay for sex.
According to SCOT-PEP, criminalising clients hampers sex workers' ability to screen clients for their own safety. Clients who
are jumpy and nervous of arrest are less willing to give sex workers information about themselves, it claims. The group said that the introduction of similar legislation in Sweden has been associated with significant additional levels of violence against sex workers. SCOT-PEP board member Neil McCulloch said:
Disastrous as this legislation would prove in Scotland, going by the international evidence, we nevertheless sought to play a constructive role in discussions and we are shocked to have been excluded entirely.
Would you have a meeting to discuss whether to legislate supposedly to help any other marginalised group and yet explicitly bar them and their representatives from the discussion? It can't be right for a politician to try to work in
this way without even wanting to hear the voices of the people most directly affected.
A proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex has found support according to the results of a public consultation.
Almost 1,000 people responded to Labour MSP Rhoda Grant's plan which she hopes will become law in Scotland. Of the total, 80% favour
her ban. Grant claimed:
There has been an excellent response, and I now hope we can use the evidence provided to change society's attitude towards buying and selling sex, thereby protecting vulnerable people.
The primary argument that the demand to buy sex will decrease was acknowledged in the responses of those in favour and against the proposed Bill. This would have a knock-on effect on sex trafficking as Scotland would not be seen as a
profitable market by traffickers. This will ultimately mean an overall decrease in the level of prostitution in the country.
Of 953 responses, 758 favoured her approach which is based on legislation in Sweden.
Of the individual
responses, 47 are from people who work or worked in the sex industry . One anonymous respondent wrote:
I chose to escort for money. I enjoy it. I do not feel exploited or dehumanised. I feel liberated, excited,
expressive, creative and earning good money. I am one of very few people who actually enjoys their job.
For our human, civil and labour rights. For our inclusion and decriminalisation. For freedom to choose, respect for those choices and the absolute right to say no. For the full protection of the law. For everyone in the sex industry.
Rhoda Grant MSP believes that prostitution in Scotland is a form of sexual violence against women and sexual exploitation. She believes that prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising and that the majority
of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants. She is proposing to make it illegal to purchase sex in Scotland.
Now, I know, and you know, that her assertions are simply not true. I know from
years of experience at various levels in the sex industry that in fact the vast majority of sex workers are working (quite contentedly) of their own volition and to support themselves and their families. Indeed, my colleagues and I have been visiting
brothels so we know the truth, and we think it's time that the truth is told.
The public consultation on Rhoda Grant's proposals for a new law to criminalise the purchase of sex is open until 14th December. This is an
open consultation -- you do not have to be a resident of Scotland or the UK to respond.
All of us at SCOT-PEP have been campaigning to stop this law going through and we will continue to do so but we need YOU to use
your voice too.
Are you a sex worker, a client or an individual interested in human rights and safety for sex workers? Politicians need to know the realities of sex work, so let's tell them!
If you are a sex worker and enjoy your job, if you do not feel exploited or that it is dehumanising, harmful or degrading, SAY SO.
If you choose to work as a sex worker because it
is the best available option for you, SAY SO.
If you see disabled clients who would otherwise never experience the joy of skin to skin contact, SAY SO.
you feel that making it illegal for your clients to pay you is not going to tackle trafficking or reduce demand but deprive you of a living, SAY SO.
If you are a client, who uses the services of sex
workers and have yet to find a victim of coercion or trafficking, SAY SO.
If you work in health services and come into contact with sex workers who don't fit *that* stereotype, SAY SO.
Here's what you can do.
You can write to Rhoda Grant and tell her what you think of her proposals.
The consultation document asks specifically for answers to
8 questions -- but you can also just write in with your opinion if you prefer. Your letter will be much more powerful if you can add your own views and experiences, although at Scot-PEP we have prepared some template letters here which you can use as a
guideline for your own letter. In fact you can simply print the letters off and sign them.
You don't need to use your real name, for example you can use your work name or an alias to send in your opinion. If you do use
your own name you must ask for your response to be treated as anonymous if you do not wish your name to be published on Rhoda Grant's website and by the Scottish Parliament. (Only names will be published -- not contact addresses, telephone numbers, email
You can email your letter to: Rhoda.Grant.firstname.lastname@example.org
or post it to:
Rhoda Grant MSP Room M1.06 Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP
It has never been more important to stand up for your rights and to have your voice heard. Please don't let this new proposal drive our already clandestine and stigmatised jobs further underground
and please don't allow politicians to tell you how you feel or how you ought to live your life. Enough is enough.
Plans to criminalise the purchase of sexual services in Scotland have been welcomed by the miserable christian political group CARE (Christian Action Research and Education)
The political campaigners claimed that commercial prostitution was
fuelling the demand for people to be trafficked and exploited.
Gordon Macdonald, CARE for Scotland Parliamentary Officer, said:
We welcome Rhoda Grant's approach to reducing the demand for prostitution and
subsequently people trafficking for sexual exploitation. Prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising. We encourage supporters to respond to the consultation.
Genevieve Galvin, CARE's Human Trafficking and Exploitation Officer,
Sweden has shown that criminalising the purchase of sex works as an effective strategy to protect the vulnerable from sexual exploitation, minimise violence against women and foster a more positive sense of
equality and dignity throughout society.
A new bill to make prostitution illegal in Scotland is to be put before the Scottish parliament this week.
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant wants to see a bill fast-tracked through Holyrood, claiming it will reduce demand for prostitution by criminalising
those who buy sex. She said the proposals could be passed rapidly through the parliamentary process as the previous consultation meant there was no need to repeat this:
Practical, operational, legal, equality and
financial considerations have been explored to a sufficient degree to test, develop and refine my specific proposal and enable me to proceed towards the development of a bill. I have continued to liaise with organisations on this topic.
Views expressed to me so far, as part of my on-going engagement with a number of bodies, the public and others with an interest in this proposal, confirm that the views expressed during the formal consultation process have not
Currently kerb crawling, running brothels and soliciting for prostitution are all outlawed in Scotland but it is still legal for an adult to pay another adult for sex without any offence being committed.
Government says it will give careful consideration to the new proposals after similar plans were rejected two years ago. Former Labour MSP Trish Godman's proposals in the Criminal Justice and Licensing bill were turned down by ministers who feared
it would make the problem less visible to the authorities.
Grant, a Highland and Islands list MSP, is essentially taking over the Godman proposals, and will tell Holyrood's justice committee this week that she thinks there is no need to go through
the lengthy consultation process that usually accompanies new bills again.
The original bill met with concerns from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), which warned that it could drive prostitution off the street
and into areas where it is harder to identify vulnerable women and enforce the law. Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs on the justice committee he was not looking for additional powers in this area.
A Scottish Government
spokesperson said: Prostitution damages the individuals caught up in selling sex and the communities involved. It is a complex issue which requires careful consideration to ensure that any additional measures which may be required to be put in place
are necessary, practicable and sustainable. We will give careful consideration to any bill which Rhoda Grant brings forward on this matter.
Rhoda Grant is to press ahead with her selfish plans to criminalise prostitution in Scotland but her attempt to fast-track new legislation through parliament was blocked..
Holyrood's justice committee ruled that a 12-week consultation on
the measures, which would make it an offence for someone to purchase sex from another adult, must be carried out by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant who said:
I look forward to hearing the responses to the further
consultation on these proposals.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback that I have received to date makes clear that reducing the demand for prostitution can be achieved by making the purchasing of sex illegal.
look forward to the parliament considering more consultation feedback in the coming months and a full debate on my proposals that will protect Scottish women.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, from the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birbeck, University of London, has researched and written about the sex industry. She said the Scottish legislation proposal was not supported by any evidence that it would help
It's McCarthyism in the bedroom
The prisons are at bursting point so to fill them with people who use prostitutes and to give them a criminal record is lunacy.
It would be a retrograde step and would make things worse.
The people this legislation would most harm are the people they are proposing to help.
She said the best way to protect sex workers
was to treat violence against them as a hate crime and build a strong relationship between the police and prostitutes so they felt that if they approached them for help their complaint would be taken seriously