Supporting Rhoda Grant's proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex

1 June 2013

Rhoda Grant MSP is putting forward a Bill which will make the purchase of sex in Scotland a criminal offence.

There is consensus in Scottish political circles that prostitution is violence against women and Rhoda's work continues a long line of progressive advocacy against it.

As recently as 1997 the idea of criminalising prostitution for buyers provoked sniggers in the European Parliament when the Swedish Left Party MEP Marianne Eriksson first proposed the concept of criminalizing those who pay for sex.  

Two years later the idea became law in Sweden as the Purchasing of Sexual Services Act.

Eriksson said:

“To buy or not to buy - that is the question."

“Responsibility remains with those who demand because they are the ones that really have a free choice.'

The links between prostitution, pornography and the slave trade must be recognised. As Eriksson pointed out:

“ Everyone in the European Union is against human trafficking" 

Slavery was abolished on the grounds that it was against a person’s rights to be bought or sold.

This is precisely the experience of prostituted women.

Taking these same ideas into the internet age, last month the tumblr blog project "The-invisible-men" drew attention to the choices of buyers of sex, by posting direct and often very disturbing quotes of 'reviews' posted on  the web forum punternet .

The project : The Punter : Let’s Talk about His Choices  (link) quotes the words used by punters to review their experience with women in prostitution. 

Without seeking to prove, disprove or debate choice on the part of women described, it invites the reader to consider HIS choice.

Beyond the Streets (link) is a UK charity that states that “people exploited by prostitution and sex trafficking deserve access to genuine and attainable alternatives.

“Campaigning alone is not enough; alternatives have to be provided.

“The sex industry is an ever expanding arena for sexual exploitation.

"Street prostitution, off-street prostitution, sex tourism, strip clubs, lap dancing, international and domestic trafficking and pornography are some of the venues where sexual exploitation against women, children and men happen every day.

"We are working towards seeing an end to the sexual exploitation of those in prostitution, many of whom have been trafficked.

"We believe that sex trafficking and prostitution overlap in fundamental ways and that there is an inequality of social and economic power between those exploited and those who exploit.

"The sex industry is a theatre for gender power dynamics to take the stage.”

The chair of Beyond the Streets, Anne Dannerolle, supports the Swedish law , describing her meetings with around 500 prostituted women:

“ Not a single one of them wanted to be there.

“What is inspiring with the Swedish legislation is that it actually decriminalizes the women.”

The Swedish Act is credited with reducing street prostitution by over half in Sweden’s three main cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

It targets  those who purchase sex, not those who sell.

Rhoda’s proposed Bill follows the lines of the Swedish Act .

If it succeeds, then Scotland will be on the cutting edge of global policy against the exploitation of women.

Rhoda Grant’s proposed Bill

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