A new bill to make prostitution illegal in Scotland is to be put before the Scottish parliament this week.
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant wants to see a bill fast-tracked through Holyrood, claiming it will reduce demand for prostitution by criminalising those who buy sex. She said the proposals could be passed rapidly through the parliamentary process as the
previous consultation meant there was no need to repeat this:
Practical, operational, legal, equality and financial considerations have been explored to a sufficient degree to test, develop and refine my specific proposal and enable me to proceed towards the development of a bill. I have continued to
liaise with organisations on this topic.
Views expressed to me so far, as part of my on-going engagement with a number of bodies, the public and others with an interest in this proposal, confirm that the views expressed during the formal consultation process have not changed.
Currently kerb crawling, running brothels and soliciting for prostitution are all outlawed in Scotland but it is still legal for an adult to pay another adult for sex without any offence being committed.
The SNP Government says it will give careful consideration to the new proposals after similar plans were rejected two years ago. Former Labour MSP Trish Godman's proposals in the Criminal Justice and Licensing bill were turned down by
ministers who feared it would make the problem less visible to the authorities.
Grant, a Highland and Islands list MSP, is essentially taking over the Godman proposals, and will tell Holyrood's justice committee this week that she thinks there is no need to go through the lengthy consultation process that usually accompanies
new bills again.
The original bill met with concerns from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), which warned that it could drive prostitution off the street and into areas where it is harder to identify vulnerable women and enforce
the law. Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs on the justice committee he was not looking for additional powers in this area.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: Prostitution damages the individuals caught up in selling sex and the communities involved. It is a complex issue which requires careful consideration to ensure that any additional measures which may be
required to be put in place are necessary, practicable and sustainable. We will give careful consideration to any bill which Rhoda Grant brings forward on this matter.
Rhoda Grant is to press ahead with her selfish plans to criminalise prostitution in Scotland but her attempt to fast-track new legislation through parliament was blocked..
Holyrood's justice committee ruled that a 12-week consultation on the measures, which would make it an offence for someone to purchase sex from another adult, must be carried out by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant who said:
I look forward to hearing the responses to the further consultation on these proposals.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback that I have received to date makes clear that reducing the demand for prostitution can be achieved by making the purchasing of sex illegal.
I look forward to the parliament considering more consultation feedback in the coming months and a full debate on my proposals that will protect Scottish women.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, from the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birbeck, University of London, has researched and written about the sex industry. She said the Scottish legislation proposal was not supported by any evidence that it
would help sex workers.
It's McCarthyism in the bedroom
The prisons are at bursting point so to fill them with people who use prostitutes and to give them a criminal record is lunacy.
It would be a retrograde step and would make things worse.
The people this legislation would most harm are the people they are proposing to help.
She said the best way to protect sex workers was to treat violence against them as a hate crime and build a strong relationship between the police and prostitutes so they felt that if they approached them for help their complaint would be taken
Buy Sex - Pay the Price, scream the posters in Brixton Tube. A silhouette of a shady man stands underneath the headline, moodily checking his mobile phone. Lambeth Council and Lambeth police are targeting those who buy sex, explains
the blurb, helpfully reminding commuters that Prostitution is a form of violence against women and girls. Similar posters and billboards have suddenly sprung up all over the borough.
Those unaware of the complex and contradictory prostitution laws in Britain could be forgiven for thinking that prostitution is illegal. It isn't. And nor is buying sex. Whatever your views on the inherent violence in the practice, there's
no getting away from this very simple fact. Although it's now possible to prosecute punters using the services of coerced or controlled women - a law that's been notoriously difficult to put into practice - only acts of public soliciting,
such as kerb crawling, are a criminal offence. If you choose to buy sex there will be consequences, states the campaign. Except there won't be.
Meanwhile the international press sort of recognise that the mass trafficking concept is nonsense, but this minor setback doesn't stop them using a sporting event as an excuse for gathering an assortment of oddments about sex workers.
A new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found that 53% of those surveyed believe that most of the activities that surround prostitution should continue to be outlawed. 47% believe that adult consensual prostitution should be decriminalised.
The online survey of a representative sample of 2,015 British adults revealed that 71% of respondents believe that the exchange of sexual services for money is currently illegal when in fact the basic service is not a crime in the United Kingdom.
However many of the activities surrounding the trade are illegal such as running a brothel.
There is public support for some of the more crimes such as buying sex from a person younger than 18 (94%), controlling prostitution for personal gain (86%), causing or inciting prostitution (84%), and soliciting sex on the street (also 84%). In
addition, two thirds of respondents (67%) think it should continue be illegal to place adverts for sexual services in phone boxes, and half (49%) believe running a brothel should be illegal as well.
On the politically correct topic of who to punish for prostitution, there was little support for the Swedish idea where only women are punished for prostitution. Of those expressing an opinion, 2% support only punishing women, 8% support only
punishing men, 45% support punishing both parties and 45% think that nobody should be punished for adult consensual prostitution.
Unsurprisingly the notion of decriminalisation is definitely more popular with men (52%) than women (29%).
A man has been convicted by Belfast Crown Court of prostitution and supposed human trafficking offences. Matyas Pis was convicted of the 'trafficking' of two women into the UK, controlling prostitution and brothel keeping.
It is is the first conviction for 'trafficking' in Northern Ireland.
Recorder Tom Burgess imposed a sentence of 18 months imprisonment followed by 18 months on licence.
On three occasions, between December 2010 and March 2011 Pis arranged for two women to work in Belfast as prostitutes. The women said they asked the Hungarian national to book their air tickets, and he provided them with an apartment in Belfast.
The women paid the defendant rent for the apartment and paid back their travelling expenses. There was no allegation that the women were brought or held against their will.
Judge Burgess claimed that even though there was no coercion involved, any case of trafficking human beings was a serious case.
As this was the first time that the courts in Northern Ireland have had the opportunity to sentence someone for trafficking offences, the recorder set out guidance for the courts to follow until the Court of Appeal has had an opportunity to
provide an authoritative guideline.
It's Edinburgh's open secret, known to every resident but not spoken about in polite society. Now a councillor has sparked a debate after confessing to feeling uncomfortable about being on a committee which turns a blind eye to the
Capital's sex industry.
Tory Joanna Mowat said she sat on the city council's regulatory committee and watched sauna licences being approved while everyone knew some of them could involve other activities. And she suggested it might be better if the council were able to
licence brothels openly and use that as a way to stop trafficking and offer support to sex workers. She said:
This is an area I'm deeply uncomfortable with. On the one hand we have pushed prostitution off the streets so it doesn't stare people in the face, but we are turning a blind eye to what is going on indoors.
If we are going to tolerate the licensing of brothels, which is essentially what we do, perhaps we should actually license brothels, and part of the regulation would be to ensure that the girls -- or men -- are not trafficked, that they are
tested, that they have access to medical support and that workers can go in if they want a way out of this.
At the moment there is an industry the council is complicit in, but it is not doing anything to support those working within it.
Councillor Mowat said she had supported Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald's efforts to allow tolerance zones.
Edinburgh was the first city in the UK to grant saunas and massage parlours public entertainment licences in 1986. There are now around 20 premises in this category. The blind eye approach was originally intended to tackle the problem of
street prostitution. However it remains illegal to own, manage or run a brothel, anyone convicted could face up to seven years in jail.
x:talk is a sex worker led co-operative based in London. The group and its supporters are calling for a moratorium on arrests of sex workers in London with immediate effect until the end of the Olympic Games.
Governments, charity organisations and campaign groups have argued that large sporting events lead to an increase in trafficking for prostitution. These claims, often repeated by the media, are usually based on misinformation, poor data and a
tendency to sensationalise. There is no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking for prostitution.
These claims can lead to anti-trafficking policies and policing practices that target sex workers. In London, anti-trafficking practices have resulted in raids on brothels, closures and arbitrary arrests of people working in the sex industry.
This creates a climate of fear among workers, leaving them less likely to report crimes against them and more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This is an inadequate response to sex work and to trafficking.
x:talk is aware of clean up efforts already underway in London, particularly east London, in the run up to the Olympics. These include multiple raids and closure of premises. We anticipate that until the end of the Olympic games there will
be a continued rise in the numbers of raids, arrests and level of harassment of sex workers.
A series of violent robberies on brothels by a gang in December in Barking & Dagenham demonstrates the effect that this climate of fear can have on the safety of sex workers. The effect of raids on brothels and closures in the area had eroded
relations between sex workers and the Police with the result that the sex workers targeted by the gang were unwilling to report the attacks for fear of arrest. The gang were able to attack at least three venues in December 2011.
In light of this, x:talk and its supporters are calling on the Mayor of London and London Metropolitan Police to suspend arrests and convictions of sex workers.
Prostitutes at risk during the Olympics, Vancouver-based study says
British authorities should develop a public-health plan to protect London's prostitutes during the Olympics, Canadian researchers are urging after finding that stepped-up police action and other disruptions during the Vancouver Games kept sex
workers away from their regular haunts, potentially exposing them to more violence and disease.
The survey of about 100 prostitutes before and after the Winter Games also suggested the influx of new sex workers and spike in human trafficking that many observers had predicted never actually materialized.
In fact, the women surveyed by University of British Columbia researchers said there were fewer clients than usual, and they had a harder time connecting with them, perhaps because of the police action and other disruptions.
That meant many of the prostitutes could have been forced to less-visible pick-up spots away from colleagues and health services, said the paper just published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. Not only would that make them more
vulnerable to violence, but could increase the risk of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infection, since previous research suggests isolated sex workers are three times as likely to be coerced into unsafe sex, said Dr. Kate Shannon, lead author
of the study. She explained:
They don't have support of other workers around, support of someone to call for help, so they have less protection to be able to safely negotiate condom use. Rather than this artificial focus on a massive sex-worker boom and trafficking,
evidence suggests what actually happens is adverse effects for sex workers.
Researchers with Dr. Shannon's group surveyed 107 prostitutes during the Games, and about 100 after the event was over, not necessarily the same women and transgendered people, but statistically similar. They reported no particular increase in
the pool of sex workers, the number of underage prostitutes or evidence of human trafficking, the study said.
The women did, however, tell the researchers they had been subject to increased harassment by police, which Dr. Shannon said included being detained without charge, fined or told to move along.
Offsite Article: Mean minded nutters oppose police action against women but want them to harass men instead