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Repeal all laws which criminalise those who sell or are sold for sexual use; provide exit services; and work towards an end to the sex trade

Comment 7th July 2010

 

1. Repeal all criminal sanctions for those who are exploited in prostitution. This includes removing fines, criminal records and ASBOs for loitering or soliciting.

2. Provide support services to help those exploited in prostitution to exit safely and permanently. This means supporting them to overcome the damage caused by prostitution to enable them to avail of other life opportunities including training, education and employment. 

3. Support and strengthen legislation which tackles the root cause of prostitution – the demand. 

Why does this matter?

 

 

1. Those exploited in prostitution – the majority of whom are women and children – are some of the most vulnerable in our society:

  • 75% of women in prostitution became involved when they were under the age of eighteen (Women’s Resource Centre). 
  • Up to 70% of women in prostitution spent time in care.  45% report experiencing sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse during their childhoods(Home Office, 2004).
  • More than half of UK women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted and at least 75% have been physically assaulted at the hands of both pimps and punters.(Home Office, 2004)
  • 68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the same range as victims of torture and combat veterans undergoing treatment (Farley, 2003).
  • 9 out of 10 women surveyed would like to exit prostitution (Farley, 2003).

Criminalising people exploited in prostitution fails to address the reasons that led to their involvement in the first instance – such as poverty, drug use or coercion by a third party. It does not give people the opportunity to exit prostitution and get themselves out of prostitution and it simply makes them more vulnerable.

2. Instead of criminalising people in prostitution, support services are needed to help them exit prostitution safely and permanently.

3. It is logical that without demand there would be no supply.Therefore, to ensure that future generations of vulnerable women and children are not drawn or coerced into the sex trade, it is necessary to tackle the demand for prostitution. It is the demand for prostitution that expands the industry and fuels trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

This is why Section 14 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 which makes it a crime to pay for sex from somebody who has been coerced, threatened, deceived or subjected to force is so important, and why it was supported by survivors of prostitution and 68 human rights NGOs who work on this issue. To give a red light to commercial sexual exploitation, this legislation needs to be enforced, publicised and strengthened – especially in preparation for the Olympics in 2012, for which significant expansion of the sex industry is predicted.

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