Support Rhoda Grant's Bill on criminalising the purchase of sex.

25 November 2012

Rhoda Grant MSP is holding a consultation on the introduction of a Bill to make it a criminal offence to pay for sex in Scotland.

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

This is because its business is not regarded as a commercial transaction of merchandise in the classical demand-and-supply chain because one of the partners, the female, is unequal, and likely to be the victim of violence and exploitation, without the power of free choice to walk away from the act.

 Ranged against Rhoda’s proposals is outlandish economic commentary such as :

“ Sex work earns people money.

“This means that unless your proposal is to give every sex worker in Scotland enough cash to retire, sex work is not going away. “

Rhoda has a wealth of evidence on her side, principally the 2010 report from Sweden “The Ban against the Purchase of Sexual Services: An evaluation 1999-2008”

In 1999 Sweden became the firstly country in the world to ban the purchase, but not the sale, of sexual services.

This was intended to tackle prostitution by reducing its market and so reduce the numbers forced into it.

It was also intended to change attitudes with the  moral thesis that “it is shameful and unacceptable that, in a gender equal society, men should obtain casual sexual relations with women in return for payment”

According to subsequent surveys, up to 80 per cent of the public supported the legislation.

The 2010 report examined its effectiveness , reporting that street prostitution was cut by over half in Sweden’s three main cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

The report made Scandiniavian comparisons.

It observed that the incidence of street in prostitution in Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen at the outset of Sweden’s ban were broadly comparable.

Over the next 9 years, while the numbers involved in prostitution in Sweden fell the numbers in Norway and Denmark rose significantly.

The report concluded, “In light of the great economic and social similarities that exist among these three countries, it is reasonable to assume that the reduction in street prostitution in Sweden is a direct result of criminalization.”

Norway subsequently followed suit with a similar ban in 2009 including an additional offence against Norwegians purchasing sexual services abroad.

Iceland passed a similar law in the same year.

The report stated that no increase in indoor prostitution had been found Sweden since the ban , no increase in women formerly engaged in street prostitution now involved in indoor prostitution.

It conceded that while it was  difficult to measure and corroborate levels of access to prostitution via the Internet , there was no indication that it was any greater than in neighbouring countries, indicating that street prostitution had not migrated to go online.

Swedish police authorities had indicated that the ban had helped to put a restraint on organised crime networks involving themselves in prostitution through human trafficking

If we want to follow the Swedish road to ridding our society of prostitution, Rhoda’s Grant’s Bill will be a worthy beginning.

To claim prostitution as an act of “freedom to choose” is wrong.

Prostitution results from poverty, degradation and exploitation.

No one chooses to be poor, degraded or exploited.

Freedom from prostitution means freedom from these three desperate states.

 

Rhoda’s consultation is at :

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/54314.aspx

and at :

http://www.rhodagrant.org.uk/consultation2012


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