Human Trafficking Awareness month – Ruth Jacobs Interviews


For Human Trafficking Awareness Month, author and charity campaigner for sexually exploited and prostituted women, Ruth Jacobs, is undertaking a series of interviews with human trafficking survivors, activists, advocates, filmmakers, writers and feminists. The full list of interviews can be viewed here and includes interviewees from the UK, America, Canada and South Africa.


Below are extracts from some of the UK participants.

Rebecca Mott, Exited Prostituted Woman and Abolitionist:  “I choose to fight for the prostituted class for I believe it is vital for exited prostituted women to take hold of the leadership of the abolition movement. I believe deeply that for many centuries the words and views of the prostituted class has been forced into silence, mainly because the ‘history’ of prostitution has been made in the interest of the profiteers of the sex trade. This means that any language of the prostituted that shows any form of discontent, or that seeks a path to full humanity, is censored. The only language that is allowed to be public is the voice of the ‘happy hooker’ – which is the voice of the pimp and the voice of the punter. I want the multiple voices of the vast majority of the prostituted to rise to the top, the voices of a whole class that has been enslaved and silenced. One way this can happen is through pushing to the forefront of the abolition movement the multiple voices of exited women who know the real face of the sex trade.” To read the full interview with Rebecca Mott click here.


DublinCallGirl:  “I started blogging after being inspired by Rebecca and others and this put me in touch with lots of other really compassionate, lovely people, and I’m so happy for it. No one except for a couple of friends knew about my past, so this is a much needed support. Writing the blog was such a mind opening experience. I learnt all about the different abolition movements, the pro sex work groups, I learnt about all the different (sometimes ridiculous) terminology used. Good things and bad things, I learnt about it all, at the same time as writing my own experiences and hopefully opening other people’s minds to the idea that it isn’t just ‘choice V trafficking’, when in fact of course this industry is nothing black or white, but a million shades of grey.” To read the full interview with DublinCallGirl click here.


Virginia Heath, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Filmmaker: “As a woman filmmaker, I have always felt strongly about issues of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. In 2009, I was asked if I would write and direct a film – My Dangerous Loverboy – that would raise awareness of the sexual exploitation and internal trafficking of young people in the UK. At the time, this was an extremely hidden issue. There was a slowly growing awareness of women being sex trafficked into the UK from abroad but very little recognition that British teenagers were being groomed, moved around and sexually exploited by gangs in our own towns and cities. It was happening right on our doorstep. As part of the research for writing the film, I was taken to hang out in places like shopping malls, back streets and parks where grooming was taking place. I was shocked to see what was going on with my own eyes.” To read the full interview with Virginia Heath click here.


Nicole Rowe, Feminist, Anti-Sex Trade Activist and Co-Founder of Nordic Model Advocates (NorMAs): “As a feminist activist, you have to be wilfully blind to ignore the sex trade. I was planning a one-off activist stunt around sex trafficking at a UK activist training event, and was fortunate that those I met were passionate and dedicated enough to want to form an organisation with me to tackle the foundation that holds trafficking up – prostitution. If we lived in a world where women’s bodies were not for sale, then sex traffickers would not be able to operate. So, the best place to start alleviating the problem of trafficking is with prostitution.” To read the full interview with Nicole Rowe click here.


Michelle Sweeney, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist: “The next thing I did was approach my church on the subject and as it turned out, they have a mission project that works with trafficking victims. It is called the Freedom Project, set up in 2010 to help young girls, women, and boys who have had their freedom taken away from them and find themselves being used and brutally exploited by what is termed as sex trafficking. In October 2012, a team of us ran the Coventry half marathon to raise funds for this project; it was a privilege to be able to get my hands dirty. With my church, I also do outreach work every week with an organisation called Embrace. I have had training in areas of human trafficking and other areas to enable me to go out and volunteer with the team. Embrace is a charity that works with vulnerable women in prostitution. Embrace believe that every woman can live a free, fulfilled and purposeful life, and Embrace stands with them in it and journeys them into freedom.” To read the full interview with Michelle Sweeney click here.


Magda M. Olchawska, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist and Filmmaker: “Towards the end of 2010, I started reading a lot about human and sex trafficking. I also watched a movie called The Whistleblower, based on a true story of how UN soldiers were trafficking girls from former Soviet Union to former Yugoslavia. However, the most influential person who inspired me was a lady I met on Twitter, Lynn Robertson. Lynn’s work and dedication made me inspired to write a script and then to turn it into a movie. I wanted to be involved in the fight against sex and human trafficking in any possible way. At that time, I thought the best way for me to make society more aware of the huge problem we are facing was to make a ‘fictional’ movie.” To read the full interview with Magda M. Olchawska click here.


Sheila Quigley, Author and Ally of Human Trafficking Victims: “My first novel, Run for Home, is about a family living on what some people call a sink estate. Thirteen-year-old Claire is enticed away by the delectable Brad, thinking she is going to be part of a film. He leads her to the docks where she’s taken prisoner. There, she finds two other girls on the boat. All are to be sold into the sex trade.” To read the full interview Sheila Quigley click here.


Gemma Wilson, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist: “When people who were once trafficked are rescued and out of the hands of traffickers, they often recount the days and years spent in slavery as being worse than what they imagined death to be like. That reality is something that I can’t even begin to imagine, but is something I now know about, albeit from an external perspective. The first modern day slave’s story I heard was that of Long Pross. Her story is real, and when I heard it, it became a part of my own. Wilberforce is quoted as having said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Once we know, we are responsible. The reality faced by fellow members of the human race is something to which we must face up; we have the means to end their misery. I firmly believe that when you see something wrong, you should take stock of the tools in your hands and use them to work towards change. That is all that can be done, but that is how things are done.” To read the full interview with Gemma Wilson click here.


Find out more at Human Trafficking Awareness Month.


January 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm 1 comment

The Swedish Women’s Lobby Written Statement for the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

The Swedish Women’s Lobby Written Statement for the
57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), declares that States must take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women (Article 6). Even so, and despite the increasing understanding and agreement that trafficking and prostitution seriously violate women’s human rights, the purchase of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation is still not prohibited in all countries.
Prostitution and trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a severe form of men’s violence against women and an international crime of increasing global magnitude. Any society that claims to defend principles of gender equality and women’s human rights must oppose that women’s and girls’ bodies are commodities that can be bought and sold. The prevalence of prostitution is an obstacle to equality between women and men. Furthermore, it is our strong conviction that when adopting the perspective of equality and human rights it is not possible, nor relevant, to make a distinction between voluntary and non-voluntary prostitution.
In order to prevent and combat the purchase of sexual services and trafficking, Governments need to address the demand. The most effective way of doing so is by criminalizing the purchaser of, and not the person who sell sexual services. Such a shift addresses the root cause of the exploitation which is the demand, and not the person being exploited.  
On 1 January 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a legislation criminalizing the purchase, but not the sale, of sexual services. The legislation stated that it is unacceptable that men, in a gender equal society, obtain casual sexual relations with women in return for payment. By introducing a ban on purchasing sexual services Sweden also sent an important signal to other countries highlighting our view on purchasing sexual services and prostitution. The law points out that prostitution causes serious harm to individuals as well as to society. Sweden’s 1999 sex purchase law was the first law to define prostitution as a form of male violence against women. Since then, the Swedish legislation is regularly referred to as a model to end prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The evaluation of the Swedish sex purchase law clearly demonstrates that the law has had positive effects. Since the law was introduced, street prostitution in Sweden has been halved. When the Swedish sex purchase law was introduced, its critics argued that that it would drive prostitution underground and that it would increase the risk for physical abuse of women in prostitution. The evaluation found no proof that this is the case in Sweden. There is also evidence that the extent of prostitution on the internet is much lower in Sweden than in other countries.  
The evaluation also states that the sex purchase law has reduced the extent of trafficking. Evidence shows that ban on the purchase of sexual services has counteracted the establishment of organized crime. According to the National Criminal Police, it is clear that the sex purchase law acts as a barrier to human traffickers and procurers considering establishing in Sweden.
Furthermore, women who have left prostitution refer to the law as helpful in giving them the strength to leave, and to stop stigmatizing and blaming themselves and instead put the blame on the male purchasers. Thus, the law has been a concrete tool in both decreasing the demand from purchasers, and in helping women to leave prostitution.
Above all, the evaluation shows that the demand for sexual services has been reduced and that the law has had a normative effect on society.  The ban on the purchase of sexual services was intended as a statement of society’s view that it should not be possible to buy a human being, and the evaluation shows that this has been the case. Sweden has experienced an increased public support for the ban, and the support is greatest among young people.
Sweden have now had the legislation for 13 years and it is time to take the next step forward and further strengthen the sex purchase law. In order to do so, the Swedish Women’s Lobby wants to put focus on how the law can be further strengthened and how Governments, private actors and NGOs can collaborate in the fight against sex purchase and sex tourism.
When Swedes travel abroad, for business or pleasure, sex purchase is not illegal as long as it is not criminalized in the visited country.  The legislation needs to be consistent and clear on that sex purchase and trafficking is not allowed neither in the own country, nor abroad. It is time for Sweden and other countries to follow the example of the Norwegian legislation, entered into force January 1st 2009, and expand the law to also include sex purchase abroad. Policies should be formed on the basis of human rights and equality between women and men regardless of the place of the crime. Such a legislation better allows for addressing the growing problem of sex tourism.
The Swedish Women’s Lobby wants to see that the implementation of the current legislation is prioritized and kept on the political agenda with resources and education of police, justice and social workers. Furthermore, it is important to involve the private sector of companies and travel agencies to take action against sex trade by introducing policies and code of conducts against sex purchase for employees.
In order to make certain that the violations of women’s human rights are put to an end, the trade of women’s bodies needs to be prohibited all over the world. The Swedish Women’s Lobby and its members organizations urges States Governments and the United Nations to prevent, combat and eliminate prostitution and trafficking in women and girls by:
·         Taking a clear and explicit standpoint on that prostitution and sexual exploitation of women is a violation of human rights through implementation of the legislations and conventions that already exists. States shall conclude international agreements to address the problem of trafficking in women for prostitution, and live up to the international conventions and commitments already made such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
·         Prioritizing the prevention of prostitution and sex trafficking through criminalization of sex purchase.  States shall adopt or strengthen legislative and other measures to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls. States shall also put in place information campaigns to spread information on sex purchase as a violation of human rights.
·        Preventing trafficking, prostitution and sexual exploitation by combating the male demand. In order to combat the demand, efforts must be directed towards young men and boys by working with masculinity, gender perspectives, norm critique and gender equality at early ages e.g. through the educational systems and sports associations.
·        Collaborating with private actors and NGOs in the fight against sex purchase and sex tourism. For the legislation to be consistent and clear, it is important to encourage the private sector to take action. For instance by introducing policies and code of conducts against sex purchase, and by including women’s rights in their engagement in corporate social responsibility (CSR).
·        Ensuring continued and sustained social work to support girls and women at risk of ending up in prostitution, as well as to support girls and women to leave prostitution. States and NGOs need to work together to provide support services and measures for safe returning for women who have been victims of trafficking. Although focus on the purchaser is critical for preventing prostitution and sex trafficking, it is also important for professional groups to offer help and support to girls and women in prostitution.
Sveriges Kvinnolobby/ Swedish Women’s Lobby – The Swedish Women’s Lobby (SWL) is a politically independent umbrella organisation for women’s non-governmental organizations in Sweden. Our aim is to integrate women’s perspectives into all political, economic and social processes, locally as well as internationally. We strive to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and to build and strengthen solidarity among women through information, education and awareness rising activities. The Swedish Women’s Lobby was established in 1997 and has about 40 member organizations. Gertrud Åström is Chair of the SWL. The Swedish Women’s Lobby is the Swedish coordination of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organization for women’s organizations in the EU. Please visit the European Women’s Lobby for more information on their work.

January 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

I am involved in prostitution in Scotland.  I dont call myself a sex worker and i dont call myself a prostitute.  I am a woman and a mother who has to do this to keep our family going.  I used to have another job but lost it through ill health. I have had to do this for 4 years now.  prostitution was all i felt that was left to me.

I want this to be kept anonymous. I am worried my name and details could be used against me by punters, pimps, managers and supporters of prostitution in Scotland.  Some of them know me and if they knew that i was putting in this response, I would hate to see what might happen to myself and my kids.  I smile and say to everyone that knows i do this that it is ok, that its just another job and its not so bad.  A pack of lies and I hate saying it.  why do i – well, you’re not too popular in this game if you go around with a sour face and moaning.  Anyhow – who in this game really wants to admit what it is doing to them?

I work 4 shifts a week and usually see around 3 or 4 punters a shift.  I have no respect for these men who have spare cash and use it to buy me and the other women.  we are bought – make no mistake about them just buying a service off us.   They buy us and whatever they want to do to us for that money.  Some women think they are just selling a service.  they’re not.  The punters dont think that, they think they have bought ME! They know that they have bought me and my consent.  I didnt realise it could be sold until i started this.

The idea that punters have respect for working girls is a laugh.  The way they weigh us up, pick us for whatever turns them on, make us line up and have to act like we want them to have sex with us.  Its a joke.  Its worse than a joke actually – its a complete market place.  How does this make men look at women in a good way?  We are just like another item on an Amazon wish list to be ticked off when they have had sex with us.  Paid for sex that is.  These men do not respect or even like us all that much but we have to act like they are the most sexy and attractive men ever.   All because they have money and we dont.  I have been attacked 5 times through this.  I am lucky. Some say it is just part of the job.  The job doesnt rape women – the punters do.

some people say it has to continue so a men can have sex.  why – what will happen to them if they dont?   Their head and genitals will not explode and anyone who uses this reason as to why prostitution has to exist seems to believe in the myths that teen boys use to put pressure on their girlfriends to have sex.  No-one will die if they do not get sex and dont get all the kinds of sex they want.  These men think they can get us to do all the stuff their wives and girlfriends wont do.  No wonder – i wouldnt do them if i wasnt getting paid either.  This is about money and nothing else.  i havent seen any woman who does this just because she loves the sex.  maybe there are some but i havent met them.  I hear these other women on the radio and on TV doing interviews and saying how great it all is.  I think – who are you??  I have never seen you around any of the places i have been in and yet you talk away as if what goes on with you in escorting is what it is like for the rest of us.   The women i know wont be getting rich on what they get paid after we pay our dues, we will just be getting by, blanking out what it happening and not trying too hard to think what the future is.  All the women i know want out.  If it was so bloody great – why is that?  Its cause we know deep down what this is doing to us but cant admit it.  Thats too painful.

I want the men to be criminalised.  It is about time they were.  I hear the other women and their stories.  We are all doing this to get by.  I have yet to meet a woman who loves doing this.  There may be some out there but i have not come across them.   I have met women though who will do anything to keep a home for them and their kids but why should it have to be this?

December 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

response 2

Q1: Do you support the general aim of the proposed Bill? Please indicate “yes/no/undecided” and explain the reasons for your response.
Yes, I 100% support the general aim and objectives of the proposed Bill.
Prostitution is a form of violence against women and is therefore inherently harmful. It is crucial that we send out a message that this particularly brutal form commercial sexual exploitation is simply not acceptable in a modern 21st century Scotland.
Prostitution disproportionately involves men using vulnerable women, children and, sometimes young men. It is a clear form of violence against women, rooted in gender inequality and abuse of male power.
Women and children involved in prostitution suffer routine physical and emotional abuse, violent assaults, thefts, rape and sexual abuse they experience every day in Scotland.  Some women are abducted and subjected to horrendous torture and violence; some women are murdered.  Most women involved in prostitution live in fear of crime and do not believe they have equal rights to legal recourse therefore, often do not report the crimes against them.  Many women believe that they are responsible for the consequences of their involvement in prostitution, a pattern often seen in victims of abuse. This is why legislation which criminalises the purchase, advertising and facilitation of sex is needed as a matter of urgency.
Q2: What do you believe would be the effects of legislating to criminalise the purchase of sex (as outlined above)? Please provide evidence to support your answer.
I fully support these proposals and in particular the ‘knowledge’ element.  Focusing on challenging the demand, as opposed to punishing the women involved, is a progressive step and the only way to try and improve routes out of prostitution. It sends out a strong message to wider society which is also crucial in making the cultural shift away from a damaging, casual acceptance of the myth that prostitution is the oldest ‘profession’ in the world.
 As numerous studies have shown, the Swedish model has resulted in less trafficking (as it is a more difficult environment for sex traffickers to operate in) and street prostitution has also been reduced.
 I very much hope that misleading claims made by the pimp and punter-led pro-prostitution lobby, that any such measures would ‘drive prostitution further underground’, are not taken at face value. These proposals will not criminalise the women involved and will not make prostitution more dangerous for them. It is simply not the case that prostitution can go any further underground; prostitution already operates ‘underground’. Moreover, it is common sense that prostitution cannot operate so far underground that it cannot actually be found by those seeking the purchase of sex.
 Q3: Are you aware of any unintended consequences or loopholes caused by the offence? Please provide evidence to support your answer.
I strongly support the proposals that are outlined, as I believe they will be effective in preventing loopholes which could be exploited. For example, by ensuring that both the individual who actually pays/intends to pay for sex, and the gender of the participants are irrelevant, this prevents purchasers going through third parties to avoid prosecution. I also support the proposal that prevents a purchaser from avoiding prosecution by means of non-cash payment.
Q4: What are the advantages or disadvantages in using the definitions outlined above?
 I agree with the definitions as outlined.
Q5:  What do you think the appropriate penalty should be for the offence? Please provide reasons for your answer.
 I would be supportive of a fine. However, if we are to acknowledge that prostitution is an act of violence against women, I don’t believe the Level 3 maximum adequately fits the seriousness of crime. The description of what a Level 3 fine would be appropriate for includes an act “which is not sufficiently immediate and dangerous to merit more” and “commonly the penalty for serious nuisances and is also used for serious breaches of administrative procedures”.
I believe that Levels 4 or 5 would be more appropriate. I also believe that the courts should be able to decide if a custodial sentence of up to one year is appropriate.
 I would also strongly argue that the following penalties are applied in addition to a fine:
Inclusion on the sex offender registry
Requirement to attend an educational program for men who buy prostitutes
Although I am not proposing all of these measures, it is interesting to note what the men who purchase sex have themselves said would deter them (see the Women’s Support Project 2008 Challenging Men’s Demand Report):
Having your picture and/or name on a billboard 86%
Having your picture and/or name in the local newspaper 84%
Having to spend time in jail 79%
Having your picture and/or name posted on the internet 78%
A letter being sent to your family saying you were arrested for soliciting
a woman in prostitution 77%
Greater criminal penalty 72%
Having your car impounded 70%
Higher monetary fine 69%
Required to attend an educational program for men who buy prostitutes 56%
Q6:  How should a new offence provision be enforced? Are there any techniques which might be used or obstacles which might need to be overcome?
I agree that the proposal would increase the powers currently available to law enforcement agencies for the investigation of prostitution-related crimes. It would also send a clear message to those who buy sexual activity that the purchase of a sexual activity will lead to prosecution, no matter where it is purchased in Scotland.
 Q7: What is your assessment of the likely financial implications of the proposed Bill to you or your organisation; if possible please provide evidence to support your view?  What (if any) other significant financial implications are likely to arise?
I believe that there would be an initial expense to the introduction of this proposed Bill, as I would expect that police services would have to undergo extensive training, that there would be a public education programme, and that continued support for routes out of prostitution would be needed.
However in the long term, I expect that costs to the NHS, policing and other involved services to decrease as a result of this Bill.  Swedish Police found that sexual purchase offenses were usually considered to be easy to investigate and relatively uncomplicated to process.
It is generally accepted that human trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of organised crime.  Swedish Police say that the ban has acted as a barrier to human traffickers.  Although this proposed Bill would not be a panacea, I would expect the financial implications of human trafficking to be lessened.
Q8: Is the proposed Bill likely to have any substantial positive or negative implications for equality?  If it is likely to have a substantial negative implication, how might this be minimised or avoided?
While demand is allowed to flourish, there will always be men who will exploit vulnerable women. The buying of people for sexual gratification is directly at odds with any vision for a society free from violence an equal society which treats people with respect and dignity.
Therefore, I think that this proposed Bill would have a very positive impact for equality.  The very fact that it challenges men who perpetuate abuse helps not only the women involved, but all women.
As Macleod et al explains, prostitution affects not only how men think about women, it also influences their actual behaviour toward women, including sexual aggression against non-prostituting women.  They found that 54% of the men who frequently used women in prostitution had committed sexually aggressive acts against non-prostitute partners compared to 30% of the less frequent users.
As prostitution is not only linked to gender inequality, this law would have a positive impact on other areas of inequality.  For example, gender and class, as poverty is a key factor for driving women in to prostitution; gender and race, for example brothels offering different nationalities of women to cater for different ‘customer’ tastes; and gender and disability, where prejudicial arguments are made about the sexual needs of disabled men that could only be met by women.

December 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

Response 3

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your consultation on the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill. I am responding as a private individual: although I have a long history of engagement with these issues and knowledge of the academic literature in the field, my own work is not directly in the field of prostitution research, advocacy or support.

Although I am publicly identified with aspects of this debate in other contexts, I am asking for my response to be anonymised because I think it is important to acknowledge the hostile context in which so much of this debate is conducted. Those who speak out on this issue are often subjected to hostility, abuse and ridicule and, indeed, I know of women with more direct experience than me of the issues raised in this consultation document who are afraid to respond because of the potential personal costs. I cannot, of course, speak for those women – nor would I want to – but by replying anonymously I am seeking to make the fear and anxiety over personalised attack part of the public record.

Q1: Do you support the general aim of the proposed Bill? Please indicate “yes/no/undecided” and explain the reasons for your response.

I warmly support the primarily policy intention of the Bill, to challenge – and criminalise – the demand (primarily, though not exclusively from men) to buy human beings (primarily, though not exclusively women) for the purposes of sex. The buying and selling of access to the bodies of human beings for the sexual gratification of the purchaser – in which the experience of the person bought is immaterial to the transaction – is incompatible with equality, and the proposed legislation sends a powerful message that human beings are not for sale in Scotland.

 I acknowledge that some women in prostitution are there through choice and may be opposed to this Bill and its likely impact on their livelihoods. However, it is important to recognise that the testimonies from women involved in prostitution are extremely varied. There is also a huge body of evidence – from individual women as well as from quantitative surveys – to indicate that women are abused in and through prostitution. Factors including poverty, drug dependency, prior experience of abuse as well as ongoing gendered inequalities in the workplace and the persistent and pernicious sexual objectification of women in our culture, shape and constrain the possibilities of choice in relation to prostitution. Rather than pitting one group of women in prostitution against another to decide whose experience is more ‘authentic’, we therefore need to ask whether supporting a system for the sale of human beings is compatible with equality and with our vision for Scotland – as you have done in this document. This requires that we think about the implications not only on those directly involved in the sale and purchase of sex, but also what that system says about how women (and men) are treated and valued in our society more broadly.

Q2: What do you believe would be the effects of legislating to criminalise the purchase of sex (as outlined above)? Please provide evidence to support your answer.

 The criminalisation of the purchase of sex is important in sending a strong signal about Scotland’s commitment to equality. However, in itself this is not a full or robust approach: it is imperative that those who sell – or are sold as – sex are not subject to criminal sanctions and that the criminalisation of the buying of sex is accompanied by well-resourced support for women (and men) exiting prostitution.

Q3: Are you aware of any unintended consequences or loopholes caused by the offence? Please provide evidence to support your answer.

 As above: steps need to be taken to ensure that the impact – including the loss of earnings – to women (and men) currently involved in prostitution are minimised. This would involve, at the very least, support for those exiting prostitution that would include access to bespoke legal assistance, counselling, addiction services, job training and medical assistance.

 Q4: What are the advantages or disadvantages in using the definitions outlined above?

 I am uncomfortable with the designation “buying sex from a prostitute” as it suggests that the problem lies with a category of person (the “prostitute”) rather than with the activity of buying sex and thus turning another person into a commodity for purchase.

Q5: What do you think the appropriate penalty should be for the offence? Please provide reasons for your answer.

 Fines, on a sliding scale relative to income. The evidence about the efficacy of ‘john schools’ is mixed, and – rather than making this a compulsory penalty for the offence – I would prefer to see pre-emptive public education work to raise awareness of  prostitution as a system which is dependent on inequality and abuse.

 Q6: How should a new offence provision be enforced? Are there any techniques which might be used or obstacles which might need to be overcome?

Any new legislation in this area will only be effective if accompanied by a major awareness campaign, both for the police and for the general public, and if resources are also directed towards services for women (and men) exiting prostitution. This has clear financial implications (Q7): but what are the financial and societal implications of ‘doing nothing’?

 Q7: What is your assessment of the likely financial implications of the proposed Bill to you or your organisation; if possible please provide evidence to support your view? What (if any) other significant financial implications are likely to arise?

See above.

 Q8: Is the proposed Bill likely to have any substantial positive or negative implications for equality? If it is likely to have a substantial negative implication, how might this be minimised or avoided?

As noted above, the Bill is likely to have a substantial positive impact on equality. However, as also noted elsewhere in this response, the likely short-term impact on individual women (and men) currently in prostitution needs to be considered and support for those being required or encouraged to exit prostitution because of any new legislation has to be part of the equation.

December 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm 1 comment

A response to Rhoda Grants proposal

I am submitting this as an individual and would request that it be considered an anonymous submission.  I want to be able to express my personal opinion without a negative impact on my family or my work. I have witnessed happening throughout the course of the consultation and do not want my personal response to be taken and used for broader  ‘political’ reasons.  The pro-sex work lobby in Scotland has attacked individuals online and as a result they have experienced high levels of harrassment and abuse.   I do not feel this is a positive way to engage in debates and so would prefer if this submission could be considered as anonymous.  It highlights how much the pro sex work lobby wants to silence dissent and instead label any objections as “mis-guided, ill-informed or moralistic.”


I support the aim behind Rhoda Grant’s proposal, which is to reduce the harm for those who sell sex in Scotland.  I think this legislation is a forward thinking development and also support it on the basis that it promotes gender equality.


Other countries who have decided to turn the focus onto those are willing to exploit others social and economic availability, are those with the highest level of gender equality.  This proposal would allow Scotland the same opportunity to show how we really consider the value of women.  I know that the vast majority of those who sell sex are women and the vast majority of those who buy it are men.  This proposal is gender neutral and so would offer men who sell sex the same level of protection as women and in turn treat both men and women who chose to purchase sex in the same way.


I am not directly involved in prostitution but have experience of working alongside those who do or have done in the past.  I do not want to speak on their behalf as their own and other’s responses will do that but I have seen first hand the impact on those who feel they no other option than turn to prostitution for their own and their family’s survival.  I have worked in areas with high levels of unemployment, deprivation and disadvantage with young women and men who feel that prostitution in the only way for them to bring money into their homes.  I have seen young women becoming involved without a full realisation of what it may mean for their emotional and mental health.  Their entry into the sex industry was made without this information and was certainly never covered as part of the recruitment process by escort agencies and brothel managers.  Many found it very difficult to leave again, feeling even more trapped and limited than they were before. It is time that we removed prostitution as the final option for survival and instead of focusing on the individual and their choices – we acknowledge that it only exists because there is a demand for it.

While the women were involved they spoke of it as their “choice”, even whilst describing horrific experiences at the hands of customers or punters.  Those punters chose to use, exploit and abuse vulnerability.  They were the ones who inflicted emotional harm and physical hurt.  They were the ones to exercise free choice and walk away with little or no consequences.  This legislation will finally make them face up to the fact that prostitution is not harmless nor just another form of entertainment. If they want to continue to purchase sex, then they can now deal with the consequences.


I have read, watched and heard the media coverage of this proposal.  I have seen which voices have dominated the debates and have been appalled and disappointed by how the system of prostitution has been described. I have heard vulnerable women described disrespectfully by “sex-work” representatives as “drug addled prostitutes,” with little empathy for their situations and how they have ended up involved.  I have heard the negative impacts on those who sell sex described as “occupational hazards” and as just another aspect of the “job.”  I have seen the victim blaming, misogyny and sexism directed at women who speak against this industry, which has served to keep alternative voices out of the media spotlight.   What about the women who have not had media training or had the chance to polish their media personality? What about the women who don’t write blogs about how transgressive, revolutionary and empowering prostitution is?  What about all those women who are struggling to cope and don’t position themselves to get book deals or plays written about them? Their negative experiences are presented as somehow the exception in the sex industry as opposed to the reality many women and men face everyday in Scotland.  When survivors have spoken out – their perspectives have been silenced, mocked or labelled as hysterical.  This is indicative of what happens when a survivor names the violence they have experienced which challenges more comfortable views.


It has also been suggested that the only credible voices in this process are those of “sex-workers” as they have the direct experience of prostitution and the sex industry.  Whilst I do not have this experience – I would question that I am not allowed a place in the debate on this fundamental change to how we view prostitution and therefore women in general. We do not say the same of other forms of violence so why this area?   What makes this form of violence so distinct that those affected are not allowed to voice their opinion?  It is acknowledged that women who have not directly experienced sexual violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault and harassment are still affected by its existence.  The continuing acceptance and condoning of the right to purchase sex affects all women in Scotland.  When it is thought acceptable to purchase sex as another commodity from those who feel they few other options, it then frames it acceptable to consider all women as potentially for sale.  The same is not said for men.


I have noticed a distinct lack of representation from those who choose to buy sex.  Why has the media not engaged with them and if those men thought it was so acceptable and harmless, why have they not come forward to openly express their experiences?   This legislation is aimed at them so one would have thought they would have demanded their presence and time in the spotlight. They have not needed to do this as the pro-sex work lobby has undertaken this on their behalf.  This legislation will make the punters come out of the shadows and be confronted with the reality that their actions contribute to.  I heard one interview which described the “ashen faces of male MSPs” when they have seen “sex workers” in the Scottish Parliament as part of the consultation process.  I think this reflects the previously unspoken idea that this type of legislation will not be progressed in Scotland as too many men in positions of power and influence have been punters and clients.   With this sex workers statement out in the public mainstream media, I would like to see this being addressed in the next stages of the consultation.  Previous legislation on other aspects of violence was not impeded on the basis that some men in politics would be perpetrators.  Legislation on prostitution should not be either.



I question any motivation to support a system, which is clearly based on inequality.  Those who choose to purchase sex are the ones in the powerful position.  By the very virtue that they have money or goods/ services, they will retain the control of what has been deemed a transaction. They want sex whereas those who sell need the money, shelter, food, drugs, alcohol.  No-one has ever died from not having sex or from not having the specific types of sex they want.  Vulnerable women and men can face no homes, food, warmth / heat, or clothes if they decide to not take this final option which has been presented as somehow empowering.  If an individual declares something empowering – does that then make it so for everyone else?   Others have justified the existence of prostitution on the basis that disabled men will not be able to have sex otherwise.  This needs to be challenged as it perpetuates the idea that men with disabilities will never be able to have a sexual relationship without paying someone for it.  This reinforces inequality and positions men with disabilities as somehow “other” than men without.  I notice this justification is rarely applied as the only means for women with disabilities to have sexual satisfaction. It is a more likely assumption that men are entitled to sexual activity and therefore there must be a group of women and men available 24 hours a day


I know that many women and men rely on the money / goods / services they get for selling sex.  I also know that it must be frightening to contemplate alternatives – especially when we are going through few job opportunities for all and especially so for women.  This is why this legislation must have funding available for effective services to support those involved.  A considerable part of that must be on counselling to come to terms with what happened in a safe environment and move on.  This is not saying that those in prostitution are victims but is recognising that they may have had experienced something which could be harmful.


I think this legislation is a positive step forward.  It is only part of what is needed.  We need the sale of sex to no longer be an offence.  This takes the pressure and stigma away from those who may well have come from a background of disadvantage, poverty, violence, abuse and limited options.  This means Scotland also has to acknowledge that inequality exists, that women are more negatively affected by economic changes and have fewer options in which to earn a liveable age.  With that acknowledgement we have to address the broad systematic inequalities to ensure that there are social safety nets in place so no one sees prostitution as all they have left. 




December 18, 2012 at 11:55 am 1 comment,1,373/SCASEBulletinAugust2012.html,1,373/SCASEBulletinAugust2012.html

SCASE Bulletin – August edition,1,373/SCASEBulletinAugust2012.html

Continue Reading September 13, 2012 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

SCASE response to Trish Godman’s Private members bill


SCASE Draft submission –

Response to: Consultation on the Criminalisation of the Purchase and Sale of Sex (Scotland) Bill,  Trish Godman, MSP, February 2011

The Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (SCASE) :

Ø    works to raise awareness of the harm caused to women through prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation, including stripping, lap dancing, pornography, sex tourism, mail order brides, and trafficking for the purposes of prostitution.

Ø    campaigns for legislative change necessary to: reduce the harm caused through prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation; remove current gender inequality in the law; challenge the behaviour of men who buy sex.

We believe that the focus must be on the demand – the men who assume the right to purchase others for prostitution, commodifying and marketing their bodies. No one has the right to exploit, nor profit from the exploitation of, another person regardless of any form of exchange of money, goods or services.

“Male demand is a primary factor in the expansion of the sex industry worldwide and sustains commercial sexual exploitation, and that the buyer has largely escaped examination, analysis, censure, and penalty for his actions”  (J Raymond)

We support the intention of this Bill to make it an offence to engage in a paid-for sexual activity. This criminalization of the demand should not be used as opportunity to further criminalise those who are purchased for sexual purposes.

We share a clear anti-prostitution stance and do not judge or criticise women involved. The WSP does not deny that some women choose to become involved in prostitution but they represent a minority of the women and girls involved in Scotland. Any legislative approach must be based on the needs and experiences of many women for whom the element of choice is greatly reduced. It is important that we also hear their voices and experiences of women, not just those who have the largest media and online presence.

At the same time, SCASE would lobby for additional measures to make sure that those who have been sexually exploited are fully decriminalised, and for expanding support services to offer specialist interventions to people exit for the long term in a safe way.  This has to take account of trauma and multiple layers of violence they have experienced to overcome the damage caused by it.  This should include drug and alcohol treatment for high numbers of those involved. They need access to opportunities including training, education and employment.

We acknowledge that other factors promote prostitution such as different economic policies; globalization; an organized sex industry; financial and political crisis’s; female poverty preyed on by recruiters, traffickers, and pimps; stereotypes; and women’s inequality all contribute to the rise in global sexual exploitation. These factors, too, are highly gendered. Male demand drives this profitable exploitation so pimps, recruiters, and traffickers seek out a supply of women.

This amendment would help create a contemporary, democratic society in Scotland where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence.  It is a progressive and courageous move recognising that prostitution, like all forms of violence against women, constitutes a barrier to gender equality and so any legislative approach should seek to remove such a barrier. Gender equality will be unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them and is a significant social problem, which is harmful not only to the individual prostituted person but also to society at large.

Response to Consultation Questions:

1) What option do you favour? Please explain the reasons for your choice.

We support Option 2, which would criminalise only the purchaser.

We do not support legislation to further criminalise those “selling sex”, in the belief that the overwhelming majority of those involved in prostitution do so in order to survive, and have already experienced significant neglect, violence and abuse. We consider that those involved should be offered the necessary practical and emotional support to enable them to exit prostitution, rather than being criminalised by our justice system.

2) What penalties have a deterrent effect for the purchaser/seller?

When questioned on what would deter them from buying sex, men interviewed in Scotland identified five key deterrents:

  • Being added to the sex offender register – 89%
  • Spending time in jail – 79%
  • Increase criminal penalties – 72%
  • Having car impounded – 70%
  • Higher fines – 69%

(Challenging men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland, 2008)

We do not see that “seller’ or those exploited through the sex industry should be criminalised but more resources should be available for prevention work and ongoing support to exit.

3) What are the barriers to policing and enforcing a prohibition on advertising?

It is necessary to have clear definitions on what constitutes ‘selling sex’ and ‘sexual services’

Consideration needs to be given to how the legislation can be applied across the many means of advertising, including printed media, websites, social networking sites, telephone and text.

We do not wish to see individuals involved in prostitution being criminalised – rather we want the law to focus on those businesses and organisations that profit from the advertising of sexual services.  In other words it is the publishers who would be responsible for ensuring that their publication did not knowingly advertise sexual services.

Training for police and other criminal justice personnel will be crucial in terms of ensuring that the policy intent, and the longer-term benefits are clearly understood.  The experience of Sweden provides a useful example in that initial reluctance and opposition were overcome by the provision of training and awareness raising about prostitution and trafficking in human beings. (G. Eckberg 2004)  In Sweden the initial criticism of the law as being difficult to enforce ceased and one year after the program began in 2003, there was a 300% increase in arrests.  This is believed to be the result of the investigating officers’ better understanding of the reasons behind the legislation, their deeper comprehension of the conditions that make women vulnerable to becoming victims of prostitution and trafficking, and the development of better investigation methods.

4) What penalties are appropriate for those who advertise brothels or prostitution, bearing in mind these may range from individuals such as prostitutes to organised gang members?

We do not support the criminalisation of individuals who are involved in prostitution in order to survive.  The law should focus on those who profit from the exploitation of others.  However we recognise that some women (or men) who are involved in prostituting may also be responsible for promoting the prostitution of others, for example through promoting another escort service or brothel on their blogs / websites, and in these circumstances it would be appropriate for the law to be applied.

5) What are the barriers to policing and enforcing this part of the proposal?

Barriers will be similar to those mentioned at 3) above.

In addition there is a need to develop an agreed definition of ‘brothel’.

6) What penalties are appropriate for those that facilitate prostitution, bearing in mind these might be individuals such as prostitutes or organised crime gang members?

Whilst we do not support the criminalisation of individuals selling sex, we recognise that some prostituted women may be involved in exploiting others, or in promoting the prostitution of others, and when this is the case it is appropriate that they should face sanctions.

We consider that financial penalties should be on a sliding scale and should take account of a number of factors including the level of profit arising, whether the activity is blatant or extreme, and whether it is a repeat offence.

7) What other costs may arise as a consequence of this proposal?

Funding and resources for –

A public education campaign to publicise the new legislation and to address broader issues, so that the general public can understand the policy intent and the long-term benefits.

Resources must also be invested in support to people wishing to exit prostitution.

8) Are there any equality issues that arise from this proposal?

We consider that the policy intent in this bill is directly linked to the attaining of gender equality.

February 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

Scotland: Don’t be like US

Thanks to SM Berg for writing this article for SCASE.

The world is debating prostitution. In the past fifteen years, sex trafficking has emerged as a critical human rights issue as the problem has become a planet-wide catastrophe in that time. There’s no need to go into details here about how globalization, armed conflicts, sexism and racism teamed up to create the modern sex slave trade because I want to talk about solutions.

Most people’s favorite example country for legalization, The Netherlands, has seen foreign women and children’s bodies flood De Wallen, Amsterdam’s largest red light district (aka prostitution neighborhood) since legalization in 1999.

The prostitution industry’s favorite example country for legalization, New Zealand,  has seen a quadrupling of illegal prostitution in Auckland, their largest city, since country-wide regulations were instituted in 2003.

Led by Sweden’s example in 1999, the countries of Norway and Iceland have changed their laws to acknowledge that prostitution is male violence against women and children. Finland’s legislators proposed a similar law change in 2006 but settled for making it criminal to hire coerced prostitutes, and England followed their half-step one month ago in April 2010.

As usual, the United States hogs more press coverage for several rural counties in a desert state (prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas) than gets accorded to the entire legalized countries of Mexico, Greece, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and every country in South America except Guyana and Suriname.

I live in Portland, Oregon, which readers of the New York Times and other news fit to print know is the US city with the most strip clubs as well as home of the theater that first projected images of Linda Lovelace getting raped in Deep Throat. Libertarians know our state constitution allows for entertainment businesses to have prostitution occur in them as paid acts of free expression. The Hooters at Mall 205 closed after a few months because it couldn’t compete with the topless sports bar across the street.

Way out in the Oregon desert where there’s nothing around for miles but sage and jackrabbits, there’s a place named “Whorehouse Meadow.” Tourist guides and historical plaques make frequent mention of  how ‘colorful’ the wild, wild west was with saloons and brothels. Men moved the necessary livestock West with them building cattle ranches for the beef and rape rooms for the meat.

For the past eight years I have worked against prostitution in Oregon, but only in the past two years have I seen commitments to make improvements. People didn’t just suddenly discover sex trafficking, prostitution went up as the economy went down and we were forced to confront the problem literally brought to our doorsteps by pimps and johns. I live in the worst prostitution neighborhood in one of the worst US cities for sex trafficking, and my neighbors are Portland’s famously tolerant, progressive citizens. But johns are soliciting children on the way home from school, pimps are beating their slaves on the sidewalks, and there are so many used condoms and needles in the community park that before ball games parents must do a sweep of the field.

We’ve just begun to get serious political weight behind the issue. Portland has no shelter for prostitution survivors, leaving only piecemeal outpatient services available. New laws to provide for victims and target traffickers have been proposed, but so far none of the Prostitution Task Force’s recommendations to reduce men’s demands for prostitutes have been put into action. Instead of  addressing that porn-exacerbated problem, a few weeks ago stickers with a trafficking hotline phone number were mailed to every liquor-selling establishment in Oregon. To respect the free speech of liquor license holders, posting the sticker is optional.

Last week, the Scottish Parliament rejected the Swedish model decriminalizing prostitutes and criminalizing punters; pimping is already criminal. Scotland, you prickly thistle, your obstinance has you staying the muddy path of male supremacy. There’s no better time than now to start fixing your cities the right way, and that means the radical way digging up the roots of sexual inequality. Please don’t wait for the situation to get as unbearable as it has gotten here. Ignoring the damage being done by invasive weeds in the spring only makes for more backbreaking work in the heat of summer.

By SM Berg

May 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

Briefing on ‘adult entertainment’ consultation

The Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation:
# works to raise awareness of the harm caused to women through
prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation,
including stripping, lap dancing, pornography, sex tourism, mail order
brides, and trafficking for the purposes of prostitution.
# campaigns for legislative change necessary to: reduce the harm caused
through prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation; remove
current gender inequality in the law; challenge the behaviour of men
who buy sex.
The Scottish Government is once again looking at licensing of lap dancing and
similar activities. The Justice Committee has agreed to take written
evidence on Amendment 516 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill. This
amendment, lodged by Sandra White MSP, seeks to allow local authorities to
apply a specific licensing regime to adult entertainment venues, including
limiting the number of premises in the local authority area that are
permitted to provide adult entertainment.
The full text of this amendment can be found at:

Click to access amdt516.pdf

In our view activities such as stripping, lap dancing, pole dancing, and table
dancing are forms of commercial sexual exploitation. We are therefore
writing to urge you to respond to this opportunity. This is an extremely
important amendment, which would, amongst other things, empower Local
Authorities to decide on a local level of provision for lap dancing clubs.
Please read this briefing for information on why this legislation is necessary.
Current licensing.
Current licensing regulations do not provide sufficient controls for lap
dancing and related activities. For example regulations limit both who is
eligible to object to licensing applications, and the grounds on which
objections can be made. This effectively means that it is not possible to
object to the nature of the activity itself. Since we view such activities as
exploitative we are opposed to any regulation that condones or manages
these activities. Local authorities should have the option of refusing to
license these activities because they are exploitative.
These activities are incompatible with work on gender equality and on
violence against women. It makes no sense to sign up to prevention and
awareness work on male violence against women, or to fight for improved
protection for women from sexual assault and sexual harassment, and then
to condone such behaviour under the guise of ‘entertainment’. We cannot
have an equal Scotland so long as women are abused and exploited in this
Definition and use of term ‘entertainment’.
Lap dancing is referred to in the amendment as a form of ‘Adult
Entertainment’. There are forms of entertainment suitable for adults (as
opposed to children), but we are strongly of the view that it is inappropriate
to use the term ‘entertainment’ when referring to exploitation. Whilst we
accept that ‘adult entertainment’ is the commonly used term, it should be
made clear that this is a euphemism designed to disguise the true nature of
these activities, and to normalise sexual exploitation. Activities such as lap
dancing are harmful for the individual women involved and have a negative
impact on the position of all women through the objectification of women’s
bodies. This happens irrespective of whether individual women claim success
or empowerment from the activity.
It is essential to separate sexual activity or ‘titillation’, from exploitative
sexual activity. In our view a sexual activity becomes sexual exploitation if
it breaches a person’s human right to dignity, equality, respect, and physical
and mental wellbeing. It becomes commercial sexual exploitation when
another person, or group of people, achieves financial gain or advancement
through the activity.
Furthermore there is ample evidence to show that commercial sexual
exploitation eroticises women’s inequality, particularly through pornography.
Black, minority ethnic, indigenous and third world women suffer
disproportionally. (See and and
But lap dancing is popular!
The fact that there is a demand for sexually exploitative activities does not
make these activities legitimate: for example there is also a demand for
child pornography. On the contrary, once the idea exists there is pressure
on vulnerable women to become involved. There is evidence that once
involved, there is pressure on women to take part in further sexual activity.
See, for example, the report ‘Profitable Exploits: Lap Dancing in the UK’
Impact of commercial sexual exploitation.
In our view commercial sexual exploitation is harmful to the women involved, to families, to communities, and to society in general. In terms of the impact on ‘performers’, audiences and the public in general, there is a huge amount of information evidencing links between commercial sexual exploitation, drug taking and dealing, and organised crime. See, for example, above websites, and the report ‘A Critical Examination of Responses to Prostitution in Four Countries’ (2003)
Lap dancing as gateway to prostitution.
Scottish research with men who had bought sex in prostitution found that
31% of the men had located accessed prostitution through a lap-dancing
club. 34% of the men interviewed in Edinburgh who bought sex indoors
reported that they had located prostitutes in a lap-dancing club.
Significantly fewer (13%) of the men interviewed in Glasgow had located
prostitutes in lap dancing clubs (chi square (1, N=88) = 5.53, p = 0.02).
Edinburgh currently has seven lap dance clubs whereas Glasgow has four.
Although Glasgow City Council considers lap dancing to be a form of sexual
exploitation, current licensing legislation does not prohibit it. (Challenging
Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland, 2008)
Impact on communities.
Women who live or work near lap dancing clubs have reported harassment
and verbal abuse from men leaving / arriving at clubs. There can be no doubt
that the mixture of explicit sexual ‘dances’, and the availability of alcohol
creates an atmosphere, which is extremely unsafe for women, and that
woman with children, and families will avoid such areas if possible. This
effectively creates city centre areas which are ‘no go’ areas for women and
children. Public attitudes to ‘adult entertainment’ are changing, partly due to
the normalisation of prostitution and pornography in popular culture.
Findings show that younger people are more likely to be in favour of clubs
opening in their neighbourhood than older people, and opposition to them is
greater amongst women (63% opposed) than men (48%) (MORI/AEWG
Research carried out by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce in 2003 found that
three-quarters of city centre business believed that lap-dancing clubs would
damage the reputation of the city; half were concerned about the safety of
their staff in the vicinity of the clubs.
Negative impact on women ‘dancers’.
Women who have worked in clubs report assaults, attempted assaults, and
verbal abuse from men in the audience, and research has shown that a
worrying number of women report being stalked by customers. (See ‘Strip
Club Testimony’ by Kelly Holsopple,
A report ‘Violence and Stress at Work and in the Performing Arts’, by Giga,
Hoel and Cooper, University of Manchester, published by the International
Labour Office, Geneva, 2004, states that “Some dancers, particularly those
employed in “exotic dancing” such as stage dancing, table dancing and lap
dancing report social disillusionment and increased health problems due to:
costume and appearance restrictions, dirty work environments, coercion by
management and customers to perform particular types of dance, sexual
harassment, physical assault, forced sex and the effects of stigmatisation”.
Lap dancing has increased the vulnerability of all dancers. It presents a
potential for direct skin to skin, genital-to-genital, or oral to genital contact
in the guise of dancing. It increases the probability that dancers may be
sexually coerced or assaulted, and blurs the boundary between
entertainment that relies on sexual fantasy and that which involves physical
contact. Although many dancers were supportive of regulating lap dancing,
regulations introduced to date have not helped in reducing the impact of lap
dancing on the lives of dancers. The findings of this study suggest that
there is a need for a change in policy regarding the regulation of strip clubs
and their patrons. (From Erotic /exotic dancing: HIV related risk factors,
Lewis & Maticka-Tyndale, University of Windsor, 1998)
Whilst the sex industry promotes lap dancing as a glamorous and lucrative
dance form, the experience of women dancers is almost always very
different. As one woman said,
“If you’re masturbating someone through his trousers with your arse then
that’s definitely a sexual service. It’s outrageous that lap-dancing clubs are
offering that kind of experience when they only need the same license as a
cafe … No matter what the owners tell you, these places are 100% sex
industry.” (Jenni, quoted in Libby Brooks article, The Guardian, 19th March
Numerous articles and research studies have highlighted the poor working
conditions for women, as for example Nadine De Montagnac reported at a
Westminster parliamentary hearing:
“I have witnessed a lot of things going on and the attitude towards women by
the people in charge is appalling…the women entering the industry are
vulnerable people…they think they will be protected and safeguarded but are
being abused and brainwashed into it…It is a celebrity lifestyle which is sold
to them and they think that being sexy is empowering. You are only
empowered for three minutes when you are on stage; the rest of the time
you are not empowered… you have no rights; there is no sick pay; if you do
not like it you can leave, that is the answer to every complaint.”
(From House of Commons Minutes of Evidence taken before the Culture,
Media and Sport Committee, Tues 25th Nov 2008, available at:
Women involved in commercial sexual exploitation report adverse effects on
their mental wellbeing, and these can be both severe and long lasting. It is
widely acknowledged that most women need to disassociate in order to carry
out the unwanted sexual activity: they do so through the use of drugs and
alcohol, and/or by ‘splitting’ themselves off mentally. This is damaging to
women in the long term.
Make your views known to the Justice Committee
The Committee would welcome written submissions on this amendment. (See
here for guidelines Policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and
mandatory committees (pdf 15kb))
The closing date for written submissions is Tuesday 27 April.
Submissions should not normally exceed four sides of A4. The Committee
prefers to receive written submissions electronically in MS Word format.
These should be sent to:
You may also make hard copy written submissions to:
Justice Committee
Room T3.60
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP
The so-called sex industry has expended significant resources on normalising
the abuse of women through activities such as stripping and lap dancing.
Club owners and managers profit from this abuse, whilst, contrary to popular
myth, individual women rarely report either immediate or lasting benefit.
Instead women are left feeling isolated and stigmatised. Furthermore such
activities undermine gender equality and so have a negative impact on all
women in Scotland.
We urge both individuals and organisations to make their views known on this
important equality issue.
Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation
c/o Women’s Support Project, 31 Stockwell Street, G1 4RZ

April 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm 1 comment

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