The Social Democrat leadership wants to reverse the party's 1999 decision to decriminalise prostitution in Denmark.
In advance of their annual congress this coming weekend, the Social Democrats have aired a proposal that would bring Denmark in
line with legislation in Norway and Sweden. Party leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark was the only remaining country in the region without laws preventing the purchase of sex from prostitutes, and this left it open to becoming a haven for the sex
trade. This comes after a long-term discussion within the party over such a move.
In 1999, when the party was in power, prostitution was decriminalised. This made it legal to have prostitution as one's main source of income. Since 1930,
prostitution had been allowed only as a secondary source of income. Pimping and running a brothel are still criminal activities.
Despite the problems associated with a ban, we're now taking the step to work for a full ban on sexual services,
Thorning-Schmidt said. Other members of the party, however, have expressed their concern about the effects of such a ban.
I'm concerned about women who earn a living as prostitutes, MP Morten Bødskov said. Criminalising
prostitution would make the trade even rougher and put it in the hands of criminals. He suggested the party instead seek to help women out of prostitution.
The proposal has also met resistance from members of the prime minister's Liberal
Party, MP Sophie Løhde, called the proposal naive and poorly thought out . It's an easy answer, but it's not the answer, she said.
The Social Democrats will also face an uphill battle selling their ban to the
electorate. In a poll for Jyllands-Posten newspaper, only 26% said they were in favour of criminalising prostitution. Within the party's own ranks, 29% said they were in favour.
Green Party leader calls for criminalising buyers of sex
You'd think a party campaigning for higher issues would try and be as inclusive as possible. But no, they turn out to be just another bunch of shits that
want to criminalise everything that's enjoyable in life.
British Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, urged her party to re-examine its prostitution policy at a packed fringe meeting in Brighton at the weekend.
Lucas was one of the panel speakers in a rigorous debate calling on party activists to move
policy towards a Nordic model of criminalising punters and decriminalising prostitutes.
Currently, the Green Party argues for total decriminalisation of the sex industry similar to the model operating in New Zealand.
Lucas insisted that
the current policy was well meaning but, if implemented, would not lead to protecting women who were prostitutes.
Reading aloud a letter from Finn Mackay of the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution (FCAP), Lucas said: How can the Green
Party be against the worst aspects of capitalism and not be against this ultimate commodification of women? Poverty and patriarchy drive prostitution, not individual free choice.
Panellist Natalie Bennett from London questioned the veracity
of Object's research methods, suggesting that decriminalising the whole industry would protect prostitutes best.
Once it is decriminalised, like in New Zealand, the safety systems can be put in place by the women themselves to make their work
safer, she argued, adding: It is about free choice and we are a party of free choice.
The delegates were agreed that they had the same end goal - looking at the best interests of prostitutes - but were at odds over how to
A straw poll at the end found that a majority wanted to change the current policy.
A Norwegian man was fined Kr8,000 (£800) after he complained to police that he had been cheated by a prostitute.
The man is the first person in Troms Province to be charged under Norway's new law forbidding the purchase of sexual services.
Nordlys newspaper reported that the man had paid a Russian prostitute for her services in the northern city of Tromsö, but that she had left with the cash when they failed to agree on a final price.
Kurt Pettersen, of Tromsö
Police, told the newspaper: He contacted the police because he felt he did not get the services he paid for. Since they were not able to agree [on a price], the woman left and he ended up with nothing.
New evidence has been published which fundamentally undermines the government's arguments in favour of criminalising those who pay for sex.
The research comes from Vancouver, and was conducted by the University of British Colombia. It found a
direct correlation between criminalisation and increased violence against sex workers.
Evidence from Vancouver and the UK shows that criminalisation reinforced stigma and facilitates violence against sex workers, a spokesperson for the
International Union of Sex Workers told politics.co.uk: We know that the government's policies in the policing and crime bill although they are described as intending to protect vulnerable women, they will in fact increase the level of violence sex
workers experience - both indoors and out.
The new research follows a damaging report from the respected Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which found the majority of the migrant workers in the UK sex industry were not forced or
It also concluded that criminalising clients would not stop the sex industry and that it would be pushed underground, making it more difficult for migrants working in the UK sex industry to assert their rights in relation to both
clients and employers.
Taken together, the research provides a devastating critique of the government's policy platform, which was based on an attempt to end the trafficking of women into the UK to work in the sex industry.
research found the factors causing a prevalence of violence could be stemmed by decriminalising the sex industry.
According to the report's author, Professor Kate Shannon, factors such as being forced to service clients in cars or public
places, inability to access drug treatment and a prior assault by police all correlated with violence against female sex workers: The persistent relationship between enforcement of prostitution and drug use policies (e.g. confiscation of drug use
paraphernalia without arrest, and enforced displacement to outlying areas) suggests that criminalisation may enhance the likelihood of violence against street-based female sex workers .
The findings support global calls to remove criminal
sanctions targeting sex workers, Professor Shannon said.
The Anglican Bishop of Chester has supported the Government's move to make it illegal for people to pay to use trafficked prostitutes.
The plans came under fire in the House of Lords from both main opposition parties and cross-bench peers
including Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a retired Law Lord. If the provision becomes law, it will make the matter a criminal offence even if the person did not know, or had no reason to know, that the prostitute they were using had been the subject of force.
Lord Lloyd argued against the strict liability nature of the offence and said it would be obviously unjust to convict a defendant who had no means of knowing he was using a controlled prostitute.
But Bishop Peter
Forster argued that the offence was only a semi-strict liability as the man has chosen to pay for sex and was therefore not innocently caught up.
He added: I would not want to say that we presume the guilt of any man
who pays for sex but any person paying for sex needs to take extreme care to make sure that they are not complicit in the exploitative activities to which we have referred.
Bishop Forster said there had been an inexorable growth in prostitution
in our country, for which the figures are alarming. As I understand it, about 80 per cent of active prostitutes in London come from abroad. Not all of them are trafficked, of course, but a significant proportion are.
I approach this matter not on
the basis of a moral view that I have ...BUT.. simply on the basis of how you protect women in our society. A key issue is how we frame the law around prostitution to give the maximum protection to women in our society.
The issue turns on whether we need a whole culture shift in the area of prostitution. I think that the Government take the view that we do.
There is a growth in prostitution and those who are engaged in it are now
increasingly exploited in the most dreadful way.
In those circumstances, I think that the Government are right to say that something has to be done—something which targets the worst examples and aims to achieve a culture shift.
said he admired the Government's courage for taking this matter on and said that the measure without the strict liability provision would be a dead duck.
After sweeping the streets of Norway's capital Oslo clear of prostitutes last year, city police were a bit shocked to discover that the girls are back and their numbers are just as high as they were before the removal effort.
Norway passed a ban
on the purchase of sex services in 2008. But the Aftenposten newspaper reports that the number of sex workers on the capital's streets is almost back to its pre-ban levels. Local police were surprised by the finding, but promised a quick reaction.
Oslo's Chief Inspector Oeyvind Norgarden told the Aftenposten The number is surprisingly high, and the customers must be caught. The police chief promises to increase the frequency of patrols along the city streets, even throughout the night.
One aim is to catch the customers red-handed in the illegal act.
Norgarden also claims his police will check out every prostitute they run across and check if their residence papers are correct. Most of Oslo's streetwalkers come from Eastern
Europe and Nigeria, according to the police. If they are found to be living in Norway illegally they can be deported.
With many pre-voting polls showing that Denmark will be getting a new coalition government in the next national election, this may well mark the end of legal prostitution in the country. The Social Democrats have announced they are planning add a ban on
the purchase of sex to their party platform.
Mette Frederiksen, Social Democrat political affairs spokeswoman, made the announcement that her party will add the issue to its platform at its national congress in September, according to the
Copenhagen Post. This move will put the Social Democrats in tune with the Socialist People's Party, the Social Liberals, and the Red-Green Alliance.
The nation's present government, run by the Liberals, feels a ban on prostitution would not have
the desired effect on Danish society.
Denmark is the only Scandinavian country where you can legally purchase sex. Although the act of pimping is illegal, Danish prostitutes operate completely above the board. They report their earnings to the
government and pay taxes. Danish police claim the most sex workers in Denmark actually come from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
There are an estimated 5,700 prostitutes working in Denmark, according to the Social Affairs Ministry.
Many of them work in the 130 or so massage parlours and bordellos in the country, the majority of which are located in Copenhagen.
The Christian Institute has welcomed the Government's men minded plans to tighten the law on prostitution being debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday as part of the Policing and Crime Bill.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute,
said: Thousands of girls are being trafficked into the UK every year to be forced into prostitution by people who know they can make money from them. This will continue until the demand for prostitutes is cut. We believe that the Government's latest
proposals will go some way towards turning the tide on trafficking by deterring people from purchasing sex.
He expressed regret, however, at plans to relax measures dealing with the sale of sex, warning that prostitution was inherently