CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

Sexual Exploitation
Cause menu Close menu

We believe people were made for purpose, not purchase. Exploitation within the sex industry affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. CARE is working for better laws to protect them.

As Christians, we are called to bring freedom and restoration to those who are oppressed and abused in the commercial sex trade. We are working for laws that will end the demand for exploitation and human trafficking, and help individuals to exit prostitution.

Let’s build a society where no one is for sale, where vulnerable people do not feel prostitution is their only choice, and where those in prostitution are genuinely supported and helped to rebuild their lives.

Topic primer

We believe that each person matters, and vulnerable people should be protected. Human beings are made in the image of God, different from the rest of creation. (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 8). The Bible reminds us of God’s particular concern for those who are vulnerable, weak and exploited by others and He calls on His people to show compassion and justice (Micah 6, Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 58:6). The Bible also teaches us that sexual intimacy is something to be shared with mutual respect and love (1 Corinthians 7) not to exploit someone’s vulnerability.

Prostitution is profoundly harmful and exploitative for those involved in selling sexual services, causing physical and psychological harm. Although a small number of people say they have made a free choice to enter prostitution, for most it is a result of poverty, coercion, abuse or a lack of other options.

Some get involved in selling sexual services at a young age. Many have experienced abuse in childhood with Home Office data showing 45% report experience of sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse during their childhood. Many have spent time in local authority care.

Studies show that high numbers of women in prostitution have experienced coercion from a partner, pimp or relative and that incidents of violence are much higher than in the rest of society. Drug and alcohol misuse is a problem for many. Numerous studies have found between 50% and 95% of women in street prostitution are addicted to Class A drugs. The links between prostitution and organised crime are also well established.

There is also a link between prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation. Whilst most people in prostitution have not been trafficked, many women and children are trafficked to provide sexual services. In the EU 69% of all trafficking victims identified have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. Research indicates that a large proportion of women in prostitution are migrants, many of whom have been trafficked or are vulnerable to exploitation.

The law in England & Wales has traditionally focussed on removing prostitution from public places and addressing those who organise or control prostitution. Neither paying for sexual services nor providing sexual services for payment are illegal. However, many of the activities around prostitution are prohibited including brothel-keeping, controlling prostitution (pimping) and soliciting in a public place to buy (often called “kerb-crawling”) or to sell sexual services.

More needs to be done to address demand for commercial sexual exploitation CARE supports the ‘Nordic Model’, where it is a criminal offence to purchase sexual services – targeting those who pay for sex, and recognising the vulnerability of those who sell sexual services. This model was adopted in Northern Ireland in 2015, and has also been adopted by Canada, France and the Republic of Ireland.

There also needs to be better support programmes for those who want to exit prostitution. There is evidence that many of those in prostitution would like to stop, but they face significant barriers in doing so. In particular, they need tailored drug treatment, safe and supported housing, mental health support, financial counselling and access to education and training programmes. Unfortunately, where they do exist these vital exit projects are often under-funded. We are urging all UK governments to increase access to these services.

We believe that God has compassion on those who are most vulnerable and that as Christians we have a responsibility to work for a world where people are protected from exploitation and can find hope and restoration.

Keep reading

There is more to read from CARE's perspective

Sharon mccutcheon 2 L50 Or n J Dw unsplash

We are not for sale

CARE is calling on the Government to do more to address demand for commercial sexual exploitation and to provide support programmes for those who want to exit prostitution.

find out more about our work
Rachel Moran
Pros­ti­tu­tion has a ripple effect. It cre­ates the illus­ory view in the minds of men that women are not human beings as men are, but simply the walk­ing car­ri­er of a product…they are effort­lessly and imper­cept­ibly releg­ated from the realms of the human. They are not people on a par with their male counterparts.
Rachel Moran Author of Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution


Here are a range of resources to help you dig deeper on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation.

Not for Sale Part 1

Not for Sale Part 1

by Naomi Marsden

Prostitution in Britain goes on behind closed doors, leading to widespread abuse and exploitation. The law isn't working, but how to go about changing it is the subject of intense debate. In this two-part series, we examine why the law needs changing, what the differing approaches are, and why, at CARE, we think the Government should make it illegal to pay for sex. In Part One, we explore differing views on this controversial issue.

Read Article
Not for Sale Part 2

Not for Sale Part 2

by Naomi Marsden

In Part One, we looked at why the current law on prostitution in Britain isn’t working, and explored the differing approaches to the issue. In Part 2, we'll explore three key reasons why Britain should ultimately make it illegal to pay for sex.

Read Article
Prostitution: Is it OK to pay for sex?

Pros­ti­tu­tion: Is it OK to pay for sex?

BBC News

Following legislation in Northern Ireland making it illegal to pay for sex, the BBC looked at how the system works in the UK at the moment —meeting current and former prostitutes, men who pay for sex and police.

watch the video


by Revolve Films

Watch harrowing testimonies from Dundee as documentary reveals gangs are selling women for prostitution ‘like commodities’

watch the video

Recent commercial sexual exploitation news

Woman looking out window trafficking

Scottish Government 'dragging its heels' on purchase of sex law change

CARE has welcomed a new strategy from the Scottish Government that aims to assist women to exit prostitution but urged ministers to stop 'dragging their heels' on measures design to target sex buyers.

Read article
Woman looking out window trafficking

Time for Scotland to criminalise purchase of sex

Woman looking out window trafficking

Alarm as police data shows just one conviction under NI purchase of sex law

Shutterstock 1439614217

Sex buyers law can help curb trafficking in Scotland - CARE for Scotland

Girl hand stop 0 9

International Women's Day 2023: Call for laws criminalising the purchase of sex


Gavin Shuker
CARE’s work keeps the issue of pros­ti­tu­tion and sex­u­al exploita­tion on the Government’s agen­da. As Chair of the All­Par­ty Par­lia­men­tary Group on Pros­ti­tu­tion, I have seen the urgent need to cre­ate good poli­cies that pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble indi­vid­u­als from exploita­tion. CARE’s exper­tise in this area is immense­ly valu­able — I appre­ci­ate their hard work and com­mit­ment in lob­by­ing for inno­v­a­tive approach­es to what is a very com­plex issue.
Gavin Shuker Former MP & Chair of the APPG on Prostitution
Take action

You can make a difference today.

Together we can make a difference shaping our culture and society. Here are three things you can do right now…


Jesus spent time with those who were vulnerable, particularly women in prostitution. Let’s share his heart by praying for them.

Pray now


Write to your MP on the subject of prostitution, and ask them to stand for the vulnerable in Parliament.

Write now


Read our two-part series: Is it time Britain made it illegal to pay for sex?