As miserable Norway rings in the new year it will introduce a nasty new law making the purchase of sex a criminal act, threatening even to put Norwegians who buy sex abroad behind bars.
We think buying sex is unacceptable because it favours human trafficking and forced prostitution, man hating Deputy Justice Minister Astri Aas-Hansen told AFP.
Prostitute support organisations estimate the country of just 4.6 million people has about 3,000 sex workers.
The new law is modelled on similar legislation in Sweden but Norway will go even further than its Scandinavian neighbour however, making it illegal for Norwegian citizens and residents to purchase sexual favours even abroad, although Aas-Hansen
insists catching johns in foreign countries is not a priority for Norwegian police.
Prostitutes' customers could be slapped with fines proportionate to their revenues, be sentenced to up to six months in prison, or both.
Bjoerg Norli of the Pro prostitute support centre says The women are waiting to see what will happen. They have not decided yet whether they will leave or stop selling sex or continue and establish indoors, she told AFP.
When the centre-left coalition government said in July 2007 that it was planning to draft the law, it drew protests from support groups like Pro who claimed it would make sex workers more reliant on pimps to get customers and would force them to
work in more secluded places, making them more vulnerable to rape and attack by clients.
This year Humanitarian Action decided to hold our actions on the streets, in St. Petersburg, Irkutsk and Chelyabinsk...one of the leading Moscow newspaper published an article on the protection of the rights of sex workers!
A small quiet street action in the red light area of Amsterdam. 200 printed tags with if you are here to look, then do it with respect were attached to bridges, fences, and bicycles in the area. Flowers were laid at the statue of Belle in
honour of strong, sexy, smart sex workers everywhere.
Yesterday we had one successful campaign. We started with street action with symbolically opening red umbrellas at the open area where Sex Workers joined us. We are very happy because this year, there were much more people than last year. Most of
the people were SW. One hour after that we had exhibition, with video projection and promotion of the song "Sex workers Army" which we accepted as the hymn of Sex Workers.
Austrian press publishes a press release from Sophie - support organisation for sex workers - outlining the importance of 17 December and the need for recognising rights for sex workers.
Also coverage that Scarlet Aliance organised a public event to draw attention to the issue of violence against sex workers.
In San Francisco: Hall of Justice, there was a 5pm vigil, procession + memorial
Sex Workers marched in Washington which made the Washington Post
The Italian Government have been asked to create a Parliamentary Forum for sex workers in the country to discuss and approve their Charter of Rights.
Member of European Parliament Vittorio Agnoletto made the call while addressing the national demonstration of Sex workers in Italy who came together in Rome on 13th December to protest against the proposed bill outlawing street prostitution in
the country. The so-called Carfagna Bill was prepared by Ms. Mara Carfagna, the Minister for Equal Opportunities.
Police estimate that they will close up to 1,200 brothels and prosecute 300 men a year under new laws designed to crack down on prostitution. The figures are contained in official Home Office impact assessments produced to accompany the Policing
and Crime Reduction Bill, due to be debated by MPs in the new year.
The Bill allows officers to close brothels and leave them sealed for up to three months. Previously, a 'loophole' meant officers could stage a raid and make arrests but were powerless to close down the establishment.
Estimates published yesterday suggested that between 780 and 1,200 closure orders would be served each year.
Critics say the policy will drive prostitution further underground and leave women more vulnerable to abuse.
The people who should be in jail are those who want to impose this on us
Shaun writes to his MP, John Healey
Dear Mr Healey,
What we now seem to have in our country, is HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE and COLLECTIVE TYRANNY from this Labour government. I refer to the proposed law relating to prostitution in the forthcoming Policing and Crime Bill Section 13.
This government seems NOW to be LITTLE BETTER than the tyrants and despots around the world in my humble opinion. I hope they still have the decency to subject themselves to the ballot box and do that as soon as possible too, so we voters can get
them OUT whilst we still have democracy, or some semblance of it, given the laws which are now being imposed regardless of public opinion. Considering all this I cannot help but wonder just exactly how far they would go in the future. I note that
Mr Straw is currently trying to dilute what pathetic human rights law we already have; he talks now of responsibilities and loyalty. Well let me tell you Mr. Healey, I feel NO particular obligation to be loyal to a country and/or its government
whilst they continue to impose these kind of laws on its people, nor would I blame anyone else for such a position. This IS NOT the country I was born a citizen of. New Labour have seen to that with their repressive unfair laws and their cameras
all over the place, and their constant observation of everyone everywhere they go, making us all the MOST WATCHED people IN THE WORLD with ONE CAMERA for every TWELVE people. Not to mention the powers the councils up and down the country have
been given to use and ABUSE.
But this AWFUL law as proposed below is UNFAIR and UNWANTED by the public; perhaps this law is possibly even ILLEGAL too. It certainly isn't JUSTICE is it Mr Healey ? I hope the first to be caught by it are Labour politicians who might well think
they are ABOVE it all. How can it be fair and just to prosecute someone if they acted in good faith ? IE they have no reason whatsoever to believe that someone is being controlled ? The person should at least HAVE TO be shown to KNOW about it. If
they KNEW about it, and still used the services of someone forced into this, then the issue is a completely different one. Completely.
How too, can the government tell people what they can and cannot do elsewhere in the world, when they are subject to the laws of another country ? Which laws should they obey then ? If, (or more likely WHEN) I move to Spain, is the UK government
still able to tell me what I can do whilst I am there ? Or is it the Spanish government who have that right ?
What is the definition of "controlled" and "gain" anyway ?
As said I don't use such services myself. However there may come a time when I might want to, for whatever reason and its irrelevant if I do or not anyway. This NASTY law should never be allowed to be imposed on a free people. THE GOVERNMENT IS
NOW GOING TOO FAR MR HEALEY.
Just legalise it and licence it. That's what the MAJORITY actually want to happen. Democracy anyone ? Of of course New Nanny knows best doesn't it Mr Healey ?
The people who SHOULD BE IN JAIL in my opinion are those who want to impose this on us. You Mr Healey may think such an opinion to be a bit extreme, however it is only like this law, along with the one to be imposed in January which prohibits a
new class of visual images from possession. I have tried, in my complaints to be as respectful as possible. But believe me Mr. Healey, it is getting more and more difficult; nowadays I have to choose my words very carefully.
Shame on our repressive narrow minded, prudish controlling Labour government of TYRANNY Mr Healey. It seems completely obsessed with people's sexuality and wants to make criminals out of just about everyone unless they fit into New Nanny's
straight jacket. I guess the religion of top politicians and others in authority has a lot to do with this. Well it SHOULDN'T.
PLEASE CALL AN ELECTION RIGHT AWAY. Let the people decide if they want MORE of this repression. I don't suppose the government will though. I bet they hang on right to the end.
I now hope they NEVER get elected again. I'd sooner have had the Conservatives in power for EVER, than to have experienced some of the stunts this government have pulled.
Just to think I voted Labour last time. Shame on me for that too.
A former prostitute told how it had become too dangerous to work Edinburgh's streets as new figures showed an increasing number of attacks on the city's sex workers.
The 39-year-old said she had quit after being held at knife point and sexually assaulted, and blamed new kerb-crawling laws for increasing violence.
Ten prostitutes were raped in Edinburgh between January and September this year, more than double the number of rapes reported in 2006 – the year before the new legislation was introduced.
Figures released by support charity Scot-Pep to coincide with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers revealed the number of reported attacks on prostitutes almost doubled between 2006 and 2007, from 66 to 126, while there were
92 attacks in the first nine months of this year alone.
Ruth Morgan Thomas, project manager for the charity, said there was not a night goes by where support workers in Leith did not hear of an attack taking place: There has been a dramatic increase in attacks since the kerb-crawling
legislation came into force.
The legislation has, to a certain extent, been successful in that some men have chosen not to seek to purchase sex in public places.
However, we have not invested significantly in the alternatives and what we are left with now is women who have to work longer hours and take more risks.
The reality is that men who are not put off by the thought of having a conviction for seeking to purchase sex are more likely to be those men who are prepared to rape or assault women.
UK courts are being prepared to handle
Jacqui's Smith's version of justice
The Policing and Crime bill was published yesterday.
The legislation will require sex workers who are repeatedly caught soliciting to attend compulsory rehabilitation classes, but will remove the "stigmatising" term common prostitute 184 years after it was put on the statute book by the
Vagrancy Act 1824.
The Home Office minister Vernon Coaker acknowledged that the bill's most controversial proposal, to criminalise men who pay for sex with exploited women, will prove legally fraught and will require the courts to clarify it.
The main source of contention is the new power to criminalise men who buy sex from women who have been trafficked or otherwise exploited. The wording of the bill introduces a strict liability test, under which a person who pays for the
sexual services of a prostitute controlled for gain by a third person is liable for prosecution. It says it will be irrelevant where in the world the sexual service is to be provided, or whether the man is aware that the woman is being
controlled for gain.
The police have already warned this will be difficult to enforce, but Coaker said yesterday that it would be for the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to thrash out exactly how the law will work.
Lord Bishop suggests that all paying for sex should be banned
Surely it will be accepted that the suggested lottery of not knowing if prostitutes are controlled or not is impractical...BUT...how will how will the law therefore be amended as it goes through parliament? Is it likely to get amended into a full
ban on paying for sex?
The Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth has questioned the potential effectiveness of Government proposals to tighten the law on prostitution.
Under planned changes, people who pay for sex where the person who is paid is controlled for gain would be committing a criminal offence.
Bishop Kenneth Stevenson said in the House of Lords: Like many measures in the field of prostitution, this is a worthy intention but one that gives rise to problems of enforcement.
I do not accept the argument that it is wrong in principle to penalise in law payment for sex, but I wonder whether the law can discriminate between tolerable and intolerable transactions as finely as this proposal suggests.
Can it be proved either that the person paid is being controlled or that the client has knowingly or culpably taken advantage of a victim of trafficking?
It is reported that a similar law in Finland has been singularly ineffective, and many are pressing for the adoption of the Swedish law that applies to all payments regardless of the circumstances.
For 20 years police and other agencies agreed to turn an official blind eye to sex being sold on the street in one small part of Leith in Edinburgh, with few complaints from anyone, except for a minority who opposed on moral grounds.
The decision in 2001 to end that – in the face of opposition from new residents moving into a regenerated old red light area – has been followed by legislation. New laws prohibiting kerb crawling were introduced last year, in an effort to drive
the sex trade out of residential areas.
The combined effect, though, has been far from beneficial to anyone.
Complaints about prostitutes plying their trade near homes in Leith are shooting up again. Police appealed to residents last week to look out for drivers trawling for prostitutes.
The streets are also far more dangerous for the sex workers themselves, with reports of attacks almost doubling to 126 last year, compared to the previous 12 months, including 55 assaults and 17 rapes or sexual assaults.
The new vice laws, introduced last October, have outlawed kerb crawling, making it an offence to "loiter" in a vehicle, in a bid to target the men trawling the streets for sex.
This has led to more than 30 arrests, with the number falling sharply after an initial drive in the first ten weeks. Police have also charged 19 women with soliciting offences in Leith.
But that has not been enough to stop complaints about kerb crawlers rising dramatically. It is clear that criminalising prostitutes, or those who frequent them, is not halting the trade.
As well as returning to Leith in larger numbers in recent months, the street workers have been plying their trade in new areas, including Craigentinny and Castle Terrace.
Ruth Morgan Thomas, project manager with the prostitutes support group Scot-Pep, says that, ideally, street prostitutes prefer to work in places that are well lit, covered by CCTV and away from residential areas.
But now some women are resorting to handing out mobile numbers to potential clients in order to set up illicit meetings, leaving them vulnerable as they meet men in more isolated spots.
Ms Morgan Thomas believes that bringing back the tolerance zone is the best solution: A managed area creates a safer environment where women can work together and protect one another. A managed area for prostitutes would improve personal
safety, she says, as well as enable the establishment of a drop-in service to help women access medical, education and employment services.
MSP Margo MacDonald backs the idea of bringing back a managed zone for prostitutes within Edinburgh.
She says: The idea is that street prostitution is managed for both prostitutes and the wider community. We have had one before. Every so often there would be a bit of a wrinkle or problem that needed to be smoothed out, but it looked out for
the safety and wellbeing of people affected by the sex trade. It was proven that this could work. There were complaints, but those could be overcome.
Despite the potential difficulties in agreeing a suitable area, probably on an industrial estate away from homes, the independent Lothians MSP believes re-establishing a tolerance zone is the only sensible answer: I would like to see a duty of
care exercised towards prostitutes. I would like to see the general public not being alarmed or offended by people trying to sell sex .
UK courts are being prepared to handle
Jacqui's Smith's version of justice
New laws on prostitution could be unenforceable warn Commander Allan Gibson of the Metropolitan Police.
In a major setback for the Government's plans, Commander Allan Gibson, of the Metropolitan Police's Human Trafficking Unit, questioned how effective such a crack down could be.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced last month that men would be committing a crime if they paid for sex with a woman who has been trafficked into the UK or is working for a pimp, even if they did not know she had been forced into prostitution.
The measure was criticised by prostitutes, who argued it will force the trade even deeper underground.
In evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Gibson said: Speaking personally, I think that is going to be very difficult to enforce. Gibson told the committee that it was very difficult even for police to estimate the numbers
of women trafficked into the UK for prostitution or precisely which ones were working against their will.
Over the past two years, his unit has dealt with 54 cases, and had a further 157 cases referred to it by other branches of the Met, he said.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz told minister for women Harriet Harman: (Commander Gibson) says it is very difficult to enforce a situation where a man is expected to ask a prostitute whether or not she has been trafficked and even if he gets a
negative answer he is still to be prosecuted. The police themselves... feel that the new proposals are unenforceable.
But Ms Hateman said: We have to address the demand side because this trade wouldn't be happening if men weren't buying sex...The men who are handing over the money that makes these women vulnerable have got to be made answerable for what they
are doing to create this trade."
Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said later: Yet again, the Home Secretary's rhetoric is defied by reality. The Government wants to rush through new criminal laws without any consideration as to whether they will work. In the meantime, it
neglects the basics of law enforcement - funding for the Met's human trafficking unit has been slashed, whilst the conviction rate for trafficking for sexual exploitation has plummeted. [Because it is mostly
mythical and has been massively exaggerated as propaganda for the government's man hating policies]
Banks join benefit cheats, lap-dancing clubs and drinkers at the top of a list of targets for legislative action to be unveiled today.
Gordon Brown has made unfairness to men the theme of the second Queen's Speech of his premiership.
Companies will be free to discriminate in favour of women and black job candidates under a proposed Inequality Bill. The move allows employers to give preferential treatment as long as applicants are equally qualified. It is designed to boost the
proportion of female and ethnic staff, as well as thrusting more of them into senior posts.
Measures to toughen laws against benefit fraud, ban alcohol promotions and reclassify lap-dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments were trailed yesterday.
Plans by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, for a new Bill of Rights have been shelved.
The Prime Minister said in a document previewing the Queen's Speech yesterday. So as Government takes action, we expect people to play their part in return, with clear consequences for those who do not.
The speech will also announce a Crime Bill changing prostitution and drink laws. There will be proposals to criminalise men who pay for sex with trafficked women. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has made clear the bill would include a strict
liability offence of paying for sex with a trafficked or pimped woman which means that ignorance will be no defence for those accused. The Conservatives have already indicated they are likely to oppose this, making tackling prostitution one
of the more unlikely flashpoints in politics over the coming months. [Saying that I didn't notice the Paying for sex provision in any of the Home Office press releases accompanying the Queen's Speech.]
Pbr on the Melon Farmer's forum notes the absence of a Bill to prohibit non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse ... perhaps the first bit of good news in government policy for quite a while now.
Norway's Parliament voted for changes in the legislation on prostitution, in effect criminalizing the purchase of sexual activity or a sexual act, the Ministry of Injustice and Police have announced.
Under the revised General Civil Penal Code 202a unanimously approved in November, any person (who) engages in or aids and abets another person to engage in sexual activity or commit a sexual act on making or agreeing payment shall be liable to
fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.
At the same time, any person (who) engages in sexual activity or a sexual act on such payment being agreed or made by another person, or in the manner previously described causes someone to carry out with herself or himself acts corresponding to
sexual activity is also meted the same penalty.
If the sexual activity or sexual act is carried out in a particularly offensive manner and no penalty may be imposed pursuant to other provisions, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
Section 202a is expected to be implemented on January 1, 2009 and will be also applicable to acts committed abroad by any Norwegian national. The provision applies to any person, regardless of citizenship, living in Norway.
The Government is urging tens of thousands of Women's Institute members to snitch on sex small ads in local newspapers.
But campaigners have slammed the move and say it will only drive prostitutes on to the streets - making them ten times more likely to be attacked.
In a speech to the WI, Minister for Women Harriet Hateman asked its 205,000 UK members to snitch to editors if they see the adverts in local newspapers.
She falsely claimed many of these sex workers are trafficked into this country and forced into prostitution.
However, representatives of the UK's estimated 80,000 prostitutes say Harman is grossly exaggerating the problem in order to launch an anti-immigration message - and a moral crusade.
Niki Adams, of the English Collective Of Prostitutes, told Sky News Online: It's appalling, it's absolutely terrible (what Harriet Harman is saying). It's ten times safer for women to work together in a house than on the street. And local
newspapers are one of the few ways women have to advertise. This sort of thing will force them out on to the streets - is that what the WI wants?
She added: The Government has fabricated the trafficking figures to make it appear worse. They are putting together violence and prostitution. We know the difference between consensual sex and rape.
Pat Marshall, chairman of Hampshire WI, held back on criticising Harman: We are waiting to see what Harriet Harman has to say and will think about that in the light of our resolution, she told Sky News Online.
But a spokeswoman for the national group said members would be encouraged to look out for adverts and write letters of complaint to editors if they found them. If our members find the adverts, we ask them to write to the paper and report back to
us so we can collate the results. We want our members to raise awareness of the damage that carrying these adverts can have on the lives of trafficked women and girls.
The new offence of paying for sex with person controlled for gain is so broad that it will be unworkable. Under existing laws controlling can include advising what to charge, and for gain currently means any financial
advantage. Trafficking already includes providing food or transport on a journey – even giving someone a lift to a train station. Theoretically, the proposals criminalise a prostitute's landlord as well as her client.
And when clients are criminalised, the situation becomes impossible to police: just look at Sweden. Clients and sex workers won't testify against each other because it is in neither of their interests. Besides which, how would clients know that a
worker was trafficked or not? The unintended consequence will be to force the sex industry further underground, where it is harder for workers to access services or help.
As for trafficking, the only official report from the police operation Pentameter 1 shows a tiny proportion, just 0.11%, of people in the sex industry have in fact been trafficked. A subsequent operation, Pentameter 2, found 167 trafficked
people, which is still only 0.21%.
The proposals are based on myriad flawed and inadequate reports written by lobby groups who have a vested interest in the criminalisation of clients and the victim status of women. The many dubious ideologies behind these groups include the
radical feminist thesis that all heterosexual sex is exploitation, a Marxist view that all work is exploitation, and a religious evangelism which argues that all non-procreational sex is wrong. The recent All Party Parliamentary Group on
Prostitution, chaired by Fiona McTaggart, was funded by a religious group with separatist feminists out in force.
The curious thing about common sense is that it is so uncommon. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is so short of it that at times she seems uncommonly silly. Last week she unveiled a proposal about prostitutes that is clearly silly, regardless of
one's opinions about the control of prostitution.
Her central idea in these proposals is to make it illegal for anyone to pay for sex with someone who is being controlled for another's gain. And, crucially, her plan placed the duty on the punter to discover whether the prostitute is controlled
by a pimp, a trafficker in human flesh or a drug dealer. Ignorance would be no defence.
Anyone with a tittle of sense would see that this is unworkable and unfair. Yet Smith insists she sees no disadvantage at all, apart perhaps from the necessity of “marketing” the idea to men. I think she is going to have considerable difficulty
marketing it to women as well, even to those who disapprove of prostitution in any form.
How could any punter, no matter how well meaning and fearful of the law, find out for sure that the woman of his choice is with him by her choice as well? If she is under duress, she will certainly deny it out of fear of her pimp or of the
villains who have bought her into sexual slavery. So will everyone around her. If the punter comes to the wrong conclusion about her he will be prosecuted for a criminal offence, even though he thought he was within the law.
Smith has just unveiled a steaming mess of new laws aimed at criminalising men who pay for sex with trafficked or exploited women. Ignorance of the girl's background will be no defence for punters, and men who knowingly pay for sex with
trafficked women may be charged with rape.
You may ask yourself how a commercial transaction, no matter how distasteful or amoral it may seem to others, can be suddenly reclassified as rape. Answer: it can't.
This is just the worst kind of gesture politics from a politician desperate to recast herself in the rosy glow of sexual reform. Patronisingly, she sees every prostitute as a helpless victim. And to the suggestion that many 'trafficked' women are
actually just economic migrants, she says: I do not buy that argument. End of.
Men need to think twice about paying for sex, says the Home Secretary, who wants to obliterate the sex industry by strangling demand for it - rather like trying to stop tooth decay by banning the baking of cupcakes.
Do you know, her naivety would be endearing, if it wasn't so petty and dangerous. Jacqui, there are lots of things that men need to think twice about, but as they usually go right ahead and please themselves anyway, what is the point?
Smith's mad ramblings and ideals, forged in the hairy armpit heat of Seventies feminism and untrammelled by a sliver of practical common sense ever since, make me want to scream. All she will succeed in doing is driving the trafficked women
further underground - making them more vulnerable to deeper depravity - and undermining the country's rape laws while she is at it.
In all the years of New Labour lunacy, in all their obsessive, spirit-sapping social tinkering, has there ever been anything quite so mad, or ill thought out?
Last night the Norwegian Parliament voted in favour of making payment for sexual acts a criminal offence supposedly in order to protect vulnerable women and children. The law passed with 44 votes in favour and 28 against and will come into effect
on 1 January 2009.
The legislation – inspired by neighbouring Sweden which criminalised the purchasing of sex in 1999 – is actually rather more robust than that of its next door neighbour, setting a new pace for prostitution law reform.
In the past two years police have rescued 251 women whom they believe were trafficked to Britain for sexual slavery.
The situation is shameful, but the proposal the government unveiled this week is no way to remedy it. This newspaper tends toward a liberal view of these matters, but even those who do not will find this amber light a waste of space. Better by
far either to criminalise outright the purchase of sex or to legalise it and regulate what ensues.
Britain's dilemma is not unique: all countries have prostitutes of varying sexes and nationalities. Some, such as New Zealand, have tried to minimise the problems that usually accompany the trade—violence, coercion, drugs, exploitation of minors
and migrants—by allowing prostitutes to operate openly. This seems both fair to those who choose to sell sex and good for exposing any abuses
Clearly there is no case whatsoever for the muddled, unworkable and downright unjust proposals put forward yesterday by our cerebrally challenged Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.
Under her plans, it will be an offence for a man to pay for sex - but only if the prostitute is being 'controlled for another's gain' (meaning that she is the victim of trafficking, works for a pimp or is selling her body to pay her drug dealer).
If that sounds irrational, wait for the really mad part: if Miss Smith gets her way, it will be no defence for a man to prove he didn't realise a prostitute was working for a pimp (while if he did know, he may be charged with 'rape', further
devaluing the meaning of the word).
In many cases, therefore, it will be impossible for someone who pays for sex to know if he is committing an offence.
So the law of England - our most precious bequest from our ancestors - is to become a lucky dip, severely punishing some while letting others off scot-free.
But leave aside that affront to justice. How, in the name of sanity, does Miss Smith suppose her new law will succeed in her stated aim of protecting the victims of trafficking?
Wouldn't she achieve that far more effectively if she faced up to her responsibility to police our borders - or enforced existing laws against sex trafficking, for which convictions fell by 40 per cent last year alone?
The bitter truth is that Miss Smith's proposals are gesture politics of the lowest kind, defying all the principles of jurisprudence in a pathetic bid to please the feminist lobby.
Even by Labour's debased standards, this is bad law. It must be resisted.
Tough new measures announced today will protect vulnerable women and tackle the demand for prostitution by clamping down on sex buyers and kerb crawlers.
The announcement followed the completion of the government's Tackling the Demand for Prostitution review.
The six-month review, published today, looked at what more could be done to protect the women being exploited for sexual gain. The review explored both legislative and non-legislative options, and drew from the experiences of other countries with
similar issues, including Sweden and Holland.
In response to the review, the government has committed to running national marketing campaigns to raise the public's awareness of the kerb crawling offence and the realities of trafficking.
This will be complimented by new enforcement guidance for the police to help bring people to justice.
Creating a new offence
The measures include a new offence, which will encourage men to think twice before paying for sex, and will protect women who have been groomed or trafficked into prostitution, or those who remain involved for fear of violence from a partner or
The new offence will mean that sex buyers will be liable for prosecution, even if they didn't know that the prostitute was controlled by a pimp or had been trafficked. Sex buyers who commit the new offence will get a criminal record and up to a
The government is also giving police new powers to close premises associated with prostitution and is cracking down on kerb-crawlers by making sure that police can act on their first offence.
Home Secretary's statement
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, I want to do everything we can to protect the thousands of vulnerable women coerced, exploited or trafficked into prostitution in our country and to bring those who take advantage of them to
justice. That is why I am determined to shift the focus onto the sex buyer, the person responsible for creating the demand for prostitution markets which in turn creates demand for the vile trade of women being trafficked for sexual exploitation.
There will be no more excuses for those who pay for sex. This new criminal offence of paying for sex with someone who is trafficked or pimped will apply even if the buyer claims he did not know the woman was being controlled for gain.
'I also want to tackle kerb crawling. In my book, once around the block is once too many, and so I'm making kerb-crawling punishable as a first offence. I also want to see more naming and shaming of persistent kerb crawlers.
Minister for women and equality's statement
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said, Women are being trafficked for sexual exploitation into this modern day slavery. We have cracked down on the traffickers, but we also need to cut off the demand which
fuels this evil trade - that's why we will criminalise and hold responsible the men who buy sex from these vulnerable women.
Ignorance will be no excuse.
Association of Chief Police Officers' statement
Gloucestershire Chief Constable Dr Timothy Brain, ACPO lead on prostitution and vice matters, said, With these proposals the government has clearly signalled its intention to bring about a sea change in attitudes towards
Any man who intends to pay for sex with a prostitute will have to think very carefully because it will be no defence in future to claim that they did not know someone was trafficked or controlled by someone else for gain.
Measures to close brothels are to be welcomed and will give police powers to protect neighbourhoods from the nuisance and harm they create.
'It is important to realise that this measure extends beyond trafficking and directly concerns domestic prostitution as well.
Poppy project statement
Denise Marshall, Eaves Poppy Project chief executive said, Eaves Poppy Project welcomes these new measures which seek to protect the increasing numbers of women exploited in prostitution in this country.
We are delighted that the government is taking a stance on this issue and will criminalise men who buy sex from these vulnerable women.
Notes to editors
The government's intention is to look at criminalising those who pay or offer to pay for sex with victims of these crimes, in order to deter the sex buyers who fuel illegal exploitative and coercive practices as soon as parliamentary time allows.
The Sexual Offences Act 1985 introduced two distinct offences which can be used to prosecute those who buy sex:
kerb crawling (where someone solicits from a motor vehicle, or within the vicinity of a motor vehicle), for the purposes of prostitution, persistently or in a manner that is likely to cause annoyance to people in the neighbourhood
persistent soliciting for the purposes of prostitution (effectively kerb crawling but without a vehicle)
The government now intends to remove the 'persistence' requirement from both offences, and in the case of kerb-crawling, to remove the alternative requirement of 'in a manner that is likely to cause annoyance to people in the neighbourhood'. The
purpose is to make it possible to prosecute the kerb crawler in the first instance, increasing the deterrent to those who consider paying for sex on the street or in a public place.
At present, the police have no powers to close premises associated with the sexual exploitation of adults or children, unless there is sufficient evidence to warrant the use of a premise closure order or a crack house closure order. However, many
places where sexual exploitation takes place will not be associated with anti-social behaviour or the use, supply or production of Class A drugs. This means that, in practice, premises that are subject to police investigations for offences
relating to sexual exploitation can reopen and begin operating again quickly.
The government now intends to introduce a new order that allows for such premises to be closed and sealed for a set period, providing an opportunity for agencies to act swiftly and decisively to prevent further exploitation and abuse from taking
place. The order will prohibit entry to the premises by any individual for a period of three months.
Ministers have been prevented from introducing an outright ban on paying for sex because they found that prostitution was too big a business and commanded too much public support.
A Home Office study released yesterday revealed a £1 billion market with 80,000 sex workers. It estimated that as many as 10% of men had used a prostitute at some point.
Jacqui Smith, the mean minded Home Secretary, has shelved plans to legalise small brothels - put forward when Tony Blair was in office - but has been unable to go farther and push through a ban on paying for sex, after a MORI poll indicated that
47% of people would oppose it.
Instead Ms Smith confirmed yesterday that she would introduce a criminal offence, with a maximum fine of £1,000, of paying for sex with a prostitute controlled for another person's gain. She will also start a campaign to discourage
men from using prostitutes.
The Home Office report concluded that Britain was not yet ready to follow Sweden's ban on paying for sex. The Swedish Government created their offence only after several years of close consultation with practitioners and over time the
attitudes of the Swedish public grew to support the proposed legislation.
In the UK, public attitudes are currently much more divided, suggesting that the Government needs to work to challenge the attitudes of sex buyers and the public as a whole before criminalising the purchase of sex per se becomes a viable option.
The Home Office is preparing an advertising campaign to highlight the connection between prosecution and people trafficking, of which about 4,000 women in Britain's sex industry are claimed to be victims. [but somehow
only a few cases ever actually turned up]
The Home Office believes that the new measures will shame men who pay for sex by removing any ambiguity from possible offenders' minds about the potential consequences.
The man haters of New Labour will also terrorise men seeking sex: Under the new offence it will be irrelevant whether the sex buyer knew that the prostitute was controlled or not. It is argued that those who pay for sex will know that they
could be paying for sex with a person who is controlled, and therefore they will think twice about what they are doing and their attitude towards those selling sex. This will also help to achieve the goal of reducing the size of the ‘sex market'
by sending a clear message that those who pay for sex should consider the potential implications of their actions.
Ministers are hoping that yesterday's changes, which will also allow kerb crawlers to be prosecuted for a first offence, will help to change the culture surrounding prostitution.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats said that the changes would have little effect and that the present laws should be enforced.
Paying for sex proposals are NASTY, UNFAIR and should be resisted
Thanks to Shaun who wrote to his MP John Healy
These proposals are NASTY, UNFAIR and should be resisted.
Don't they realise that many people who use sex workers are MORE UNFORTUNATE than the rest of us, and they need this outlet to satisfy their human desires ?
I suggest other readers write similar letters to their MPs, in particular letters which point out that the offspring of MPs and their other relatives are not immune from such normal human desires. I really do hope that the relatives of MPs who
vote for this are the first to get nobbled by it.
It seems our government intends to turn even MORE of your Hellaby constituents into criminals. The way things are going we will soon need to have records to show who ISN'T a criminal rather than who IS!
I suppose you'll be voting for this Mr Healey, especially if it becomes a matter for the whips. I will be looking online to see if you do. But I plead with you not to PLEASE. The proposal is very unfair.
I strongly believe that NO person be forced by others, into such things as prostitution, but this is NOT the answer to the problem. There has to be a better solution than the above. Politically too, my reading of discussions on various newpapers'
web sites and elsewhere clearly indicate that there are more of the public against these horrendous proposals than there are for them.
I know a chap, (a friend of mine) living not far away, who is unfortunate enough not to have either the looks or personality to be easily able to find a steady local girlfriend So he regularly goes to use the services of various
"professional" ladies. In all other things he is a nice enough person, and would help anyone if he could. How the HELL is he SUPPOSED to know if they have a pimp or something? Some of these girls use such people for protection rather
than the fact that they are forcing them to work in the sex trade.
According to Ms Smith: "Ignorance of a woman's circumstances will not be a defence"
That is just ridiculous, and PLAIN NASTY Mr Healey. I believe it would be against HUMAN RIGHTS but when did New Labour care about that anyway ?
What the government SHOULD do, is have the guts to properly legalise and then perhaps licence the whole sex "industry" and then the GOVERNMENT should be responsible for ensuring that the girls are not forced into it, or trafficked. Also
the law would be on their side, should they need its assistance.
I know SEVERAL people living in YOUR constituency who use such people regularly. I am not one of them. However before I was married, I did spend quite a long time single and living alone, after the break up of a long relationship and I was almost
tempted to visit people on many occasions.
But I need you (and the repressive Labour regime too) to understand that there are STRONG reasons why some male people would visit a female sex worker, and they are NOT necessarily BAD people Mr. Healey.
Such reasons (apart from mere convenience) might include:
Disfigurement and/or disability
Spouse ill, or has developed an aversion to normal marital relations.
Divorce, or death of spouse.
Difference in expectations, and agreement to other going elsewhere.
Simple bad luck with the opposite sex.
Autism, Personality disorder.
Most of the government's efforts are based on FALSEHOODS anyway. The REAL number of trafficked women, is but a small fraction of the numbers some politicians have tried to claim exist.
Mr Healey, your government just get seems to get NASTIER AND NASTIER every week that goes by. It also seems that it is filled with MEN haters and as a man I strongly resent the insinuations they seem to
make about my gender.
BTW Why is it only forced **WOMEN** that it is will be illegal to use?
The proposals clearly indicate that it will be only "controlled" women who will be illegal to use.
Aren't there no MALE sex workers who might also be forced into this ? Or does New Labour now believe in SEX DISCRIMINATION ? Or is it the fact that some politicians such as Rght Hon. Clive Betts, might still use the services of such (male) people
and they don't want that to be an offence ? I know the story of Jose Gasparo, the Brazilian rent boy who got a job with Mr. Betts in the Commons office. That was a complete disgrace.
I REALLY HOPE that the FIRST PEOPLE to be convicted of any such new offences will be Labour politicians, or their close relations. Their sons perhaps ? Preferably someone closely related to Auntie Jacqui, or Uncle Denis MacShane, for I am quite
sure their relatives are no more immune to human desires frailties and weaknesses, than are the rest of us.
I also believe that this government cares very little for the welfare of the men and women involved in the sex trade. All it cares for is IMPOSING its narrow minded sense of "morality" on its citizens any way it can, and has a mistaken
belief that this approach will win it the next election. I hope it backfires big time and then a more sensible regime will dare to introduce a properly regulated system for sex workers. I watched a "docu" film "Sick" by the
American Michael Moore on Sky Movies the other night on TV. When the film compared the health scheme in the USA, to our very own NHS ( my wife works at our local hospital, so I know the very good things NL have done here) I was immensely proud of
our country, and how good some things are here. But then I went back online later that evening, and read about more of the forthcoming New Labour repression. Repression simply for the sake of it. My pride soon melted into some kind of extreme
irritation and annoyance, and a longing for the next election to come sooner than later.
Finally, can we PLEASE have a PROPER BILL OF RIGHTS to properly protect us against extreme governments ? The Human Rights Act, has been a complete and utter waste of time and effort in that respect.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, a psychologist and expert in the sex industry, queried Joan Smith's statistics and said the figures on sex-slaves are overstated.
The crimes committed by traffickers and by violent punters are already illegal and are irrelevant to the question of prostitution.
Her experience suggested that many prostitutes are intelligent, well-qualified women who enter the profession willingly.
Many of their customers have honourable motives too. Ageing widows, war veterans and the disabled have a right to enjoy sex.
Criminalising such harmless, consensual contacts would create ‘sexual McCarthyism' while diverting police resources away from real criminals.
During the floor debate Dr Brooks-Gordon's views were endorsed by a highly articulate prostitute who provided this ironic characterisation of the Swedish model as proposed by newspaper columnists like Joan Smith. Suppose it were legal
to write a column, she said, but illegal to read one. Imagine how your income would be affected.
That brought it home. When the votes were taken the motion had been soundly defeated.
Votes for the Motion: It's wrong to pay for sex
Before the debate
Don't Know 221
After the debate
Don't Know 45
Paying for sex is to become a criminal offence in the UK and lapdancing clubs will face a stringent licensing regime
The Home Secretary has attacked the 'bizarre' practice of City firms entertaining clients in lapdancing clubs, on the eve of a government crackdown on the sex trade which is expected to criminalise most men who use prostitutes.
Jacqui Smith said she expected to see some lapdancing clubs, which have mushroomed in recent years, close and fewer new ones opened under reforms. She will outline plans this week to criminalise paying for sex with a woman controlled for
another person's gain. The new offence will carry a hefty fine and criminal record, which could prevent those caught from getting jobs in sensitive occupations.
The legislation will cover women who have pimps or drug addicts who work to pay off their dealers as well as the rarer cases of trafficked women. This is expected to include the majority of Britain's 80,000 sex workers. Ignorance of a woman's
circumstances will not be a defence. Kerb crawlers will be named and shamed , while those who pay a prostitute knowing she has been forcibly trafficked could face rape charges.
The measures are highly controversial, with critics arguing that men will seek other outlets if prostitution is driven off the streets. Smith said it was not mine or the government's responsibility to ensure that the demand is satisfied. Is
this something about which people have a choice with respect to their demands? Yes, they do. Basically, if it means fewer people are able to go out and pay for sex I think that would be a good thing.
The prostitution review will be published this week, followed later this month by new licensing arrangements that are expected to see lapdancing clubs, currently licensed in the same way as pubs, subjected to the same stringent regime as sex
shops, allowing local residents more opportunities to object.
he English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), which has vigorously opposed the clampdown, says outlawing paid-for sex between consenting adults will punish women who find this more lucrative than menial jobs. Forcing the trade underground would
mean that the risks they are forced to take will be greater, said a spokeswoman.
Under the new offence, men would not be able to claim in court that they had not known the prostitute had a pimp or a drug habit. It won't be enough to say, "I didn't know", she said. What I hope people will say is, "I am
not actually going to take the risk if there is any concern that this woman hasn't made a free choice." It would be quite difficult for a man paying for sex in the majority of cases not to fall under this particular offence.
What the new powers would provide:
A new criminal offence of paying for sex with a prostitute 'controlled for another person's gain'.
Kerb crawlers to be liable for prosecution after their first offence.
The possible expansion of a scheme in Lambeth, south London, which has impressed ministers, in which offenders are routinely named in local press.
A stricter licensing regime to make it harder for lap-dancing clubs to open in residential areas.
As the Observer reported last week, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will shortly announce an overhaul of prostitution law, making it an offence for a man to buy sex from a prostitute if she is "controlled for the gain" of another
This is a big issue and one that reflect the government's complete failure to tackle people-smuggling. So it has reacted by depriving men and women of the freedom to come to a commercial arrangement about sex.
The legislation proposed by our interfering nanny of a home secretary is condemned by academic experts who believe that the government has listened to the "incoherent" and "dangerous" research of the anti-prostitution group,
The Poppy Project. "We are appalled that the government has used this sloppy research while ignoring a large body of reputable research", said Dr Helen Ward, one of the authors of the document attacking the government's plans.
"Jacqui Smith's proposals are deeply flawed and will put sex workers at even more risk of violence and exploitation. They also contain yet another major assault on civil liberties – this time on the liberties of adults having consenting sex.
Britain's largest dedicated human trafficking police unit is being shut down just a year after it was set up because of Home Office spending cuts.
The Metropolitan Police's Human Trafficking Team will cease work next year because its budget has been withdrawn following the decision by the Home Office to cut its yearly funding for human trafficking investigations from £4m to
The Met's Human Trafficking Team was set up in March 2007 and was designed to actively target gangs who bring women to the UK as sex slaves and children as forced labourers. It is estimated that more than 4,000 people are currently in the UK as a
result of having been trafficked.
The Home Office yesterday insisted that the funding for the unit was always intended to be time-limited. However, when it was launched last year, the Home Office made no mention of this. Instead, the Home Office minister, Vernon Coaker, said: This new team will be a specialist unit dedicated to targeting the global criminal networks that profit from this modern day slave trade. Those involved in the trafficking of men, women and children can expect to feel the full weight of the law.
However there have been a handful of cases of trafficking successfully prosecuted recently:
A man who held a teenage girl in sex slavery at his Enfield home has been jailed. Mentor Brahimi pimped out his 19-year-old victim from a property in Enfield for a month, in March this year.
She had just been brought to the UK by an Eastern European gang, when Brahimi's wife promised the teenager a room in a safe house, which she saw as an escape route.
But the offer was nothing but a trick and she was forced to sell her body for sex to stay there. She eventually escaped on April 23 and alerted police.
Brahimi was convicted and sentenced to five years for trafficking women and four years for controlling prostitution. He was also handed a three-year jail term for cocaine possession and a year for money laundering.
DC Chris Ansell, of the Met's clubs and vice unit, said: Brahimi subjected a young and vulnerable woman to repeated sexual abuse to line his own pocket. To exploit a woman who had already been trafficked over from Romania to work as a
prostitute shows cruelty in the extreme.
Thai brothers who led an internet sex gang which made millions by exploiting trafficked women have been jailed. The women were charged up to £30,000 by the gang to repay their travel "debts".
Bordee Pitayatankul was jailed for 15 months. His brother Pongpoj was given 18 months at Southwark Crown Court. Seven other members of the gang were also jailed.
Gang members admitted to various offences including conspiring to launder money and plotting to control prostitution between 1 January 2005 and 21 April 2008.
Up to 70 women worked from at least 20 brothels across London, including Bayswater, Kensington and Paddington, to raise the money they were told they owed the gang.
The Oriental Gems website set up by the gang featured the women accompanied by a photo gallery showing them naked or semi-naked. It also listed their sexual specialities with prices ranging from £150 for one hour to £1,500 for an
Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Hardy said: It cannot be right in this day and age that women coming to this country should be, in effect, sold off like slaves to work in this or any other trade for free until their debt is expunged.
Police estimate that the business was making a conservative £800,000 a year at one stage, with the gang pocketing a minimum of £3.2m. Although officers have seized £179,000 they are yet to trace huge assets thought
to be hidden abroad.
The judge said authorities should decide whether those convicted should be deported. Confiscation hearings will be held next year.
There a number of proposals being highlighted in the run-up to next month's Queen's Speech.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will shortly announce an overhaul of prostitution law, making it an offence for a man to buy sex from a prostitute if she is 'controlled for the gain' of another person. This is expected to be so widely drafted that it
could cover up to nine out of 10 sex workers, not just those trafficked into the sex trade but those controlled by pimps or even by drug habits.
Ministers hope that while it will technically remain legal to pay for sex so long as a woman agrees freely, many men will be frightened off because it will be so difficult to be sure any particular prostitute falls into that category.
House of Commons debates
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General
Fiona Mactaggart (Slough, Labour):
What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the review of demand for prostitution; and if she will make a statement.
Vera Baird (Solicitor General, Redcar, Labour):
I have discussed with the Home Secretary a number of measures to address the problems of prostitution arising from the demand review. They were mainly announced by the Home Secretary in September, and included improvements
to the legislation on kerb crawling, new powers to close brothels, greater restrictions on lap dancing clubs and a new offence of paying for sex with someone who is controlled for another's gain. The full results of the review will be announced
I thank the Solicitor-General for that reply. The last of those offences announced by the Home Secretary—the offence of having sex with someone who is controlled for gain—mirrors an offence in Finland. Is the
Solicitor-General aware that there have been no prosecutions since the Finnish offence was introduced?
No, I did not know that. However, I do not think that that is an inherent defect of the offence, and I am not sure that the two offences are identical. We prosecute those who control prostitutes for gain, so prosecuting
people who pay for sex with a person who has been prostituted for gain goes with the grain of what we do already. We all know that a very high percentage of prostitutes are controlled for another's gain, so one might think that there is a 90 per
cent. chance that any man who buys sex will fall foul of this law. We will have to design its finer points later, but we have every hope that it will make a significant difference and be a significant deterrent.