Prostitution survivors urge MSPs to criminalise paying for sex
Prostitution survivors will urge MSPs to criminalise paying for sex and decriminalise selling sex when they speak at an event at Holyrood next month.
The event will be held to mark 20 years since Sweden adopted the Sex Purchase Act, which made paying for sex a criminal act whilst also decriminalising the sale of sex.
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham will hear from Diane Martin CBE, a survivor of prostitution and sex trafficking, and Mia de Faoite, a survivor of prostitution, as they campaign for Scotland to follow Sweden’s lead.
The Scottish Government announced in September that it will be bringing forward a consultation to gather views on Scotland’s approach to tackling prostitution.
Martin said: “As a Scottish survivor of prostitution and sex trafficking, I am proud of my government’s recognition of prostitution as exploitation and violence against women and girls; but now is the time to apply that understanding in a legislative and operational way.
“We must address the realities and lived experiences of those on the receiving end of this entitled and harmful sexual exploitation.
“By decriminalising those exploited through systems of prostitution and providing exiting solutions for them - while robustly tackling gender inequality and the demand created by sex buyers, pimps and highly organised gangs through the criminal justice system - we would send an uncompromising message that in Scotland, women and girls are not for sale.”
Ruth Maquire MSP, co-convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, said: “As long as our bodies are objectified, commodified and reduced to something to be bought and sold, used and traded, we won’t have equality.
“And, we will be failing in our promise to eliminate violence against women and girls if we don’t also address head on the single root cause of this particular form of violence – which is male demand.
“We can do this by criminalising the purchase of sexual access to women’s bodies – whilst decriminalising prostituted women and providing properly resourced specialist services to help women leave.”
The event – entitled Twenty Years On: What can Scotland learn from Sweden's ground-breaking law to tackle demand for prostitution and sex trafficking? – will be held on December 5.