SCASE response to Trish Godman’s Private members bill

February 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm 2 comments


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.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Scotland: Don’t be like US,1,373/SCASEBulletinAugust2012.html

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. glasgow sex worker  |  June 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

    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

    Wow, and I thought I was leftwing …

    • 2. scaser  |  December 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Hi there Glasgowsexworker. Do you think people should have the right to exploit others??


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