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I write to express my concern about the amendment, presently before the Scottish Parliament, to criminalise the purchase of sexual service, to advertise prostitution etc. The amendment comes, I am given to understand, from MSP Trish Godman and the rationale behind it is laid out on a website, under the sponsorship of Glasgow Council, http://www.endprostitutionnow.org/. The assertions in this website and, thus the rationale behind the amendment itself are riddled with fallacies.
1. It equates consensual paid sex with rape. This is nonsense. By definition, rape is sex without consent. Consent for immediate payment, distasteful as some moralists may find it, is clearer-cut than the consent in most seductions and some marriages.
2. It asserts under ‘job description’ that the job normally entails ‘being penetrated orally, anally and vaginally … with bottles, brushes, dildos, guns and/or animals…’ Ditto, ‘being bound and gagged, tied with ropes and/or chains, burned with cigarettes, or hung from beams or trees is a normal part of the job.’ This is propoganda of the worst sort. I have known many prostitutes over many years; I have yet to meet one who says that any of this has happened to her.
3. It says that the client pays whatever he feels like, after the sex. This is untrue. The normal system is that the client pays the agreed sum up front, usually within the first few minutes of meeting the woman and before any sexual contact.
4. It says repeatedly that prostitution is ‘not a choice.’ This is untrue, as individually evidenced by Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour)’s recent comments http://belledejour-uk.blogspot.com /; by extensive comment on the escorts’ self help site http://www.saafe.info, by many prostitutes’ comments on e.g. http://www.punternet.com and by recent high-quality academic studies including e.g.: http://www.sexworker.at/phpBB2/download.php?id=479, largely based on UK nationals and http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/londonmet…0Findings2.pdf which found, among migrant sex workers (in whom one might expect the most vulnerability to coercion), the vast majority (>90%) had made a positive choice to become prostitutes.
5. Finally, under ‘Other Countries’ it notes that New Zealand has decriminalised prostitution and brothel-keeping but is then dismissive, asserting that attacks on street prostitutes have increased. It completely fails to mention official NZ Govt analysis pointing to the success of the decriminalisation policy. [URL]http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy-an…eform-act-2003[URL] A recent NZ newspaper poll shows 2:1 support for the view that decriminalisation has been a success: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/3371975/Kiwi-debater-convinces-Oxford-Union-on-prostitution
(click on poll results to LH side)
It would be a travesty to pass legislation predicated upon on such a mass of misinformation.
It is perfectly reasonable to have a moral objection to prostitution, just as it is to many other dubious intimacies or consequences thereof (drunken pick-ups in the local nightclub, regretted next morning; marriage for money; large divorce settlements after brief marriage; office affairs etc etc). We do not, however, seek not make these illegal and, to quote Cicero (Pro Coelio, chap. 20), writing 2000 years ago:
“If there is anyone who holds the opinion that young men should be interdicted from intrigues with the women of the town, he is indeed austere! That, ethically, he is in the right, I cannot deny: but nevertheless, he is at loggerheads not only with the licence of the present age, but even with the habits of our ancestors and what they permitted themselves. For when was this not done? When was it rebuked? When found fault with?”
And Cicero’s point still holds: so long as both parties are willing and not coerced (see my point 4 above as evidence for this, also the conspicuous failure of Operation Pentameter to find the large numbers of sex slaves alleged to exist by e.g. the Poppy Project) the purchase an sale of sexual services in a private matter, whatever one’s personal views about its morality, not the business of the State.
This amendment is is illiberal and ill-founded, as I have argued here. Others will -rightly- make the case that it will endanger the livelihoods and potentially the lives of many voluntary prostitutes, turning them into dependents on the state and reducing tax revenue. It is hard to see how this will benefit Scots or Scotland, a country where I went to university, for which I hold a deep affection, and from which some of my forebears came.
Based on all these arguments I would most strongly urge you to reject this amendement.