response 2

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

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.
 

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Response 3

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