The National Women's Committee's Motion 117 on Demand Change! was carried by an overwhelming majority at UNISON's National Delegate Conference this week, meaning that UNISON is now officially supporting this important campaign.
calling for an end to the commercial sexual exploitation of women, by decriminalising prostitutes and criminalising those people who purchase such sexual services, on the basis that the sellers are being exploited by the buyers. This approach is based on
the Nordic model which became law in Sweden in 1999, followed by Norway and Iceland in 2009.
Australia's Northern Territories Government has rejected a call for brothels to be opened in the Territory.
Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the idea wouldn't be considered .
And a Christian nutter group came out strongly against
legalising brothels in the NT.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the NT should adopt the Swedish model - and make it a criminal offence to buy sex or run a brothel.
ACL Managing director Jim Wallace claimed the new laws there led
to the number of women involved in prostitution being cut by two-thirds, the number of men buying sex falling by 80% and a huge drop in women being smuggled into the country for prostitution.
The NT Sex Workers Outreach Program has called
for legal brothels. Program organiser Seranna Shutt said: That would be best practice for health and safety.
There are about 50 sex workers in the Territory, most operating from a Darwin escort agency.All agency women must be registered
Ms Shutt said the registration system should be scrapped because personal details were kept by police forever.
Wallace said the Government should reject the call for brothels: Legalising brothels does nothing to address the
appalling exploitation of women in the sex industry, but instead dramatically increases the problem, as well as increasing trafficking in women .
Wallace claimed the NT system of licensed escort agencies didn't work either.
Iceland's public prosecutor has issued charges for 11 men who are suspected of having purchased sexual services last year from a woman who is on trial for sex mongering.
This is the first time that such charges have been issued in Iceland since
the Althingi parliament passed legislation in 2009 making the purchase of prostitution illegal.
The woman's affairs have been under investigation for a long time. The police have referred 17 cases related to her affairs to the public prosecutor
where the law on prostitution is suspected to have been violated.
The woman will remain in custody until June 5. Reykjavík District Court found her guilty of drug smuggling and profiting from the prostitution of others on December 1 and
sentenced her to two and a half years in prison, but she appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
If the men who are suspected of purchasing sexual services are found guilty, they might be fined or face up to one year in prison
Liberal Party MP Camilla Lindberg has argued that Sweden should legalize prostitution and provide greater social security for practitioners of the oldest profession .
The parliamentarian said she hoped her vocal stance would spark debate.
Lindberg said Swedish laws permitting the sale of sex but forbidding its purchase had failed to protect prostitutes.
Lindberg said prostitutes should be given full access to Sweden's unemployment insurance and pension systems: Prostitution has
existed for thousands of years. How can we help people living with this? They too are part of our society. People should be secure in society and feel that they belong .
Lindberg said it had become taboo to question Sweden's prostitution laws.
What one really wants to get at is trafficking, which is a completely different thing to prostitution. The two are often mixed up. One shouldn't confuse trafficking with a 40-year-old woman who has chosen to sell her body, or a 40-year-old man
who has made that choice .
A mean minded bid to introduce sweeping new laws criminalising all aspects of prostitution has been defeated in the Scottish Parliament.
Labour MSP Trish Godman's amendment would have made it an offence to engage in, advertise or facilitate
paid-for sexual activity, whether it was on the streets or indoors.
The plan won the support of the committee's three Labour members, but was voted down by its five MSPs from other parties.
Godman ranted: As I speak, men are buying
sex from prostitutes, men are raping women who are trafficked, they have no fear, they will never get caught because it is not an offence. We need to send a strong message that buying sex is not harmless or acceptable, that it should be regarded in
Scotland as an abuse and an exploitation which will not tolerated. I would argue that we owe it to all women who are victimised by prostitution to do what we can now.
At present, kerb crawling is illegal in Scotland but prostitution is not,
and prostitutes are arrested only if they are suspected of causing a breach of the peace.
The Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, prostitutes' support agency Scotpep and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald had all warned that the amendment
could drive prostitution out of the relative safety of flats and saunas and on to back streets, putting women at greater risk.
Community safety minister Fergus Ewing, who attended the justice committee meeting, said: The government is concerned
about making substantial changes to the law in this difficult, complex and sensitive area without proper consideration and consultation, with all the issues involved. Rushing through a major change to the law of prostitution through amendments, without
any proper consultation and with very limited time for consideration, is a bad idea.
The amendment was also criticised for being added to the already wide-ranging Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, and without having had specific
consultation on the ramifications of a change in legislation on prostitution.
Ruth Morgan Thomas, of Scotpep, said the amendment would have sought to criminalise an estimated 5,000 women working in the sex industry in Scotland. She also said that
a law against facilitating the purchase of sex would potentially lead to receptionists, hotel porters and even taxi drivers being charged and convicted.
Sex workers in the Netherlands must be at least 21 years old and carry a pass with their photo and a special registration number, says a law amendment just filed in parliament.
People of 21 are better able than people of 18 to make a
well-considered decision about whether or not to work as a prostitute, caretaker injustice minister Hirsch Ballin, who submitted the amendment, said in a statement: They are better able to deal and negotiate with clients. They are more likely to
have some further education and thus be less economically dependent on prostitution work.
The amendment, yet to be adopted by parliament, will compel prostitutes to enrol on a national register and to have an entry interview on the risks of
the job and alternatives, said the statement.
Registered prostitutes will receive a pass with a profile photograph and registration number, which will enable clients to control that they are using the services of a legal practitioner. Under the
current law, only brothel owners and other prostitute handlers require authorisation
Update: Further Details of the registration scheme
Prostitutes have to be at least 21 years of age. This is Minister Hirsch Ballin's (the Interior and Kingdom
Relations, Justice) proposal to the Lower House in an amendment to the legislative proposal already before the Lower House concerning the regulation of prostitution and sex businesses. Persons aged 21 are better able to make a well-considered decision
about working as a prostitute than people aged 18; they are also more resilient as regards handling and negotiating with clients. Moreover, they will more often have finished an education and therefore economically less dependent on work in prostitution.
Municipalities will have to conduct a substantive interview with each prostitute at the time of their registration or extension thereof.
Initially, the Dutch government chose an age limit of 18, in view of the risk
that prostitutes aged between 18 and 21 would disappear into illegality. Minister Hirsch Ballin wants to combat this with strict checks and making illegal prostitutes, operators and their clients punishable.
Prostitutes will have to register in a national register. Upon registration, an interview has to be conducted with each prostitute concerning the risks of the business, health care and assistance, social security, insurance and possibilities to leave the world of prostitution. During such an interview, any abuses can be discussed and forwarded to the police and welfare services. Registration will only be possible in 25 to 35 larger communities throughout the Netherlands in view of the fact that conducting this type of interview requires the necessary expertise on the part of the civil servants. Registered prostitutes will receive a pass with their picture and registration number (but without their name). Clients have to check whether they are dealing with a legal prostitute by means of the pass. It is the intention that clients can establish via the Internet whether the registration number advertised by the prostitute actually exists.
There is a taboo on prostitution although it is legal in the Netherlands. Anonymity and privacy are therefore very important for prostitutes. Only a small number of supervision officials and the police will have access
to the national register of prostitutes. The register will also not be linked to other IT systems (such as the Tax and Customs Administration). The details of prostitutes who retire are immediately removed from the register.
Brothels and other sex businesses (clubs, escort services, sex cinemas, massage parlours) are required to have a licence. Municipalities determine via licences where and how many brothels or other sex businesses there will be. As
regards brothels and escort companies, a municipality can elect not to allow any company, the so-called zero option. The municipality does need to have supportive arguments for choosing this option that are related to public order, safety or public
health. Moral arguments should not play a role.
The licences for prostitution companies will include conditions on health, safety and the right to self-determination of prostitutes. This will strengthen their position.
Prostitution companies will require a permanent address with a fixed telephone line for a licence. The licences of escort services will be entered in a national registers which will create supervision of this part of the industry.
Clients who make use of illegal prostitution will become punishable because they maintain a type of prostitution where forms of abuse and exploitation can easily occur. The prohibition on the operation of a prostitution company
without a licence and registration duty for prostitution creates a clear division between legal and illegal prostitution. That division is also recognisable for clients.
The act is intended to regulate the prostitution
industry, not to obstruct the legal part of the industry. The new act is also intended to make a contribution to combating abuses such as coercion, abuse and human trafficking.
Punishment of violations
Prostitute without registration or working in a brothel without a licence: A fine of at most 380 euros *
Clients who visit unregistered prostitutes or unlicensed brothels: A fine of at most
7,600 euros or a term of imprisonment of at most 6 months *
Sex business without a licence or violation of the statutory rules: A fine of at most 18,500 euros or a term of imprisonment of at most two years
Government plans to introduce a special register of prostitutes are running into trouble in parliament, with MPs from the
ruling right-wing VVD also having doubts, news agency ANP reports.
In particular, MPs say there are legal questions over the privacy of prostitutes and fears that it will drive them into the illegal sector. VVD MPs are also concerned about the
cost of the registration system and regulation, ANP said.
Sweden's former injustice minister Thomas Bodstr๖m and former equality ombudsman Claes Borgstr๖m have proposed increasing the punishment for paying for sex, admitting that legislation outlawing the practice during the Social Democrat tenure
has proved insufficient to address the supposed problem.
They propose, for example, elevating the classification of pimping to human trafficking to underline the severity of the crime and increase its penalty. They also propose raising the
custodial penalty for paying for sex from six months to twelve months.
Furthermore, victims of the purchase of sex should be entitled to receive compensation, among a raft of other measures proposed.
Three men have been arrested under new legislation aimed at protecting women who have been forced into prostitution.
They were held by officers at an alleged brothel in Newham, east London, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.
The men were
questioned on suspicion of paying for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force.
A woman was also arrested on suspicion of managing a brothel.
The arrests were made on the day new laws came into force to target men who pay for
sex. From 1 April, a man paying for sex with a prostitute who is being exploited through force, deception or threats is breaking the law - regardless of whether or not he knows she is selling her body against her will.
Under the new legislation,
courts have the power to close down premises associated with certain prostitution and pornography offences. And a new penalty for the offence of soliciting will oblige sex workers to attend meetings at which they will be helped to leave prostitution.
When I arrived at Women's Question Time at Westminster last night, a panel debate on feminist issues hosted by Eaves, I was dismayed to see that the literature being handed out included a copy of The Big Brothel Report, the controversial report on
sex work and trafficking which alienated so many sex worker campaign groups.
As we sat down and waited for the event to start, my companion and I found ourselves debating the issue. She was in favour of the Policing and Crime Bill, and I found
myself once again explaining that it hasn't, in practice, improved things for sex workers; that the Swedish model is rejected by many people who campaign for sex worker rights.