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The MSP Rhoda Grant has presented a proposal to the Scottish Parliament calling for the “Criminalisation of the purchase of sex” in Scotland. This of course is copying the infamous and failed Swedish social experiment. Many sex worker groups and organisations and individuals have written letters and or presented informed opinions on why this proposal is a very bad idea.I have chosen what I consider the best available so with links to the appropriate sites. I have also included my own letter written as an individual and as editor of this blog:
From Douglas Fox, sex worker and editor of Harlots Parlour:
This proposal is based upon a flawed and failed Swedish social experiment. The existing negative Scottish legislation, to which this proposal would be a violent addition, already reinforces prejudice and a mythology which condemns the sex worker as the perpetual victim. This new proposal further negates sexual equality in favour of infantalising women while brutalising all men as rapists and abusers. Proposals which ignore the voices of sex workers and which prefers flawed and much criticised research that pursues an ideological rather than an evidential based remit should not be the basis for good policy. Where, for example, is the evidence from New Zealand, the only nation to truly prioritise the safety of sex workers and to actually engage with sex workers in formulating policies that directly affects them?
Criminalising clients will not stop sex work but it will force sex work into the shadows and into the hands of criminals. Sex workers will be put in danger because they will no longer be able to access police protection without fear of their clients, their family, partners and third parties being in danger of prosecution. Also in order to obtain a prosecution sex workers will have to be coerced by the police to inform on their clients, or they will be subject to intrusive and invasive scrutiny and examination to obtain evidence. This proposed legislation is dangerous to the health and safety of sex workers. This is a policy that has been rejected by many of Sweden’s neighbours who realise that it is a failed policy that negatively affects sex workers and increases the vulnerability of sex workers.
Dr Brooke Magnanti
First off, I would like to address to comments Trish Godman MSP made at the Conference Against Human Trafficking in October this year that “Belle” does not exist and is not happy. I am Belle de Jour, I do exist, and please thank Ms Godman for being so concerned about my feelings – I am happy.
QUESTIONS Q1: Do you support the general aim of the proposed Bill? Please indicate “yes/no/undecided” and explain the reasons for your response.
No, I do not support the general aim of the bill.
If the current laws are not working, as you claim, what makes you think new, badly thought out laws would work better? Or is this another ‘send a message’ law? Passing laws is easy. Passing a law which actually works in the way intended, is enforceable and has no harmful unforeseen consequences is far more difficult.
Such a law as proposed here will not affect whether or not prostitution happens: it will simply affect the conditions under which it takes place to the harm of sex workers. The question is, do you care about those conditions? I do. My priority is access for sex workers to the services they need to preserve or improve their circumstances.
The criminalisation of the purchase of sex in other countries has been shown not to be a successful approach in either helping sex workers or stopping the phenomenon of paying for sex. The extensive evidence for this position is outlined in the replies to the following questions.
Continue to read this excellent response with all appropriate links “HERE”
The section on the “objective of the proposed Bill” presents the author’s personal views as if they are fact: “prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising… demand creates a market where vulnerable individuals are compelled and/or forced into a cycle of exploitation that places them, and their families, at risk… Prostitution acts as a serious barrier to equality and dignity…” The author may believe her opinions to be true, but that does not make them actually the truth. The author seems ignorant of the overwhelming evidence about the reality of prostitution from both academics and frontline services and the global movement of sex workers self-organising for our human rights and safety, with over 100 different organisations across six continents. This movement recognises the diversity of experiences within the sex industry and seeks to remedy the abuses which can take place by promoting recognition that people in the sex industry are entitled to the same human, civil and labour rights as others. When people in the sex industry talk about what we ourselves need, we ask that people “recognise sex work as work, oppose the criminalisation of sex work, and support the self-organising and self-determination of sex workers”.
Simplistic legal solutions fail to solve complex social problems. However, the author shows no knowledge or understanding of the diversity of people who sell sex and our experiences. Research finds a range of reasons people enter and remain in sex work.
You may read the full response “HERE”
Research project Korea
Rhoda Grant, the sponsor of this proposed bill, is a member of the Scottish Parliament. In her view,”prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising” and the “demand creates a market where vulnerable individuals are compelled and/or forced into a cycle of exploitation that places them, and their families, at risk”. Ms Grant also believes that “the majority of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants”. That is why she proposed a law that would, much like the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, criminalise the clients of sex workers, but not “further criminalise prostitutes”. Ms Grant believes that as a result, the demand to buy sex and human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation would gradually be reduced.
I was asked by some of those that Ms Grant described as “victims of prostitution” to respond to her consultation document to help stop this proposed legislation and avoid the harm it would cause to sex workers in Scotland. The consultation was open to everyone, regardless of nationality or place of residence, and so I gladly obliged. The following paragraphs are excerpts from my letter to Ms Grant.
You may view this full response with all the appropriate links “HERE”