CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

Sexual Exploitation
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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.

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There is more to read from CARE's perspective

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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.

We want the Government to:

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.

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

Cause history

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Women and Equalities Committee launches inquiry into sexual harassment of women and girls in public places

As part of the inquiry the Committee asked for evidence about the connections between sexual harassment and attitudes to pornography and paying for sex. The Committee’s report published in October 2018 included result of a YouGov survey showing that “generally speaking, those who find it acceptable for men to pay for sex or to use legal pornography also tend to find public sexual harassment more acceptable.”

Sexual harassment of women and girls in public places
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APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade publishes report ‘Behind Closed Doors – Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales’

The All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs and Peers undertook an inquiry into off-street prostitution. The ‘Behind Closed Doors‘ report concluded that “the sexual exploitation of women by organised crime groups is widespread across the UK. Third party exploiters, including traffickers and brothel owners, dominate the offstreet sex trade, exploiting mainly non-UK national women in order to profit from the minority of men who pay for sex.” The report recommended the law be changed to make it a crime to pay for sex (as it is in Northern Ireland).

Behind Closed Doors
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Westminster Hall debate on Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Several MPs from across the parties called on the Government to make it illegal to purchase sexual services in England and Wales, as it is in Northern Ireland.

Hansard Debate
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Westminster Hall debate on Offence of Sex for Rent

MPs debated the issue of “sex for rent” arrangements where vulnerable people agree to have sex with their landlord in return for housing for low or no rent and asked for the law to be clarified. In the debate the Minister gave the Government’s view that such adverts amounted to the offence of causing or inciting prostitution for gain, however no one has yet been charged in these circumstances.

Hansard Debate
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UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women publishes concluding observations on UK

The Committee published its response to the UK’s periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The report includes a recommendation for the UK to take effective measures to reduce demand for commercial sex although it did not specifically recommend legislation to make purchase of sex illegal.

Text of Report
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Conservative Party Human Rights Commission Report on Prostitution

Following an inquiry this report highlighted prostitution as an anomaly in the general social and legal approach to consent to sexual activity and recommended the introduction of a new criminal offence of paying for sexual services.

News and updates

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Consultation launched with aim to tackle demand for prostitution in Scotland

The Scottish Government have launched a consultation looking at ways to tackle demand for prostitution.

Keep reading
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Fresh calls in the Netherlands to ban paying for sex

Parliamentarians in the Netherlands are renewing calls to make paying for sex a punishable offence, in a move which could see an end to Amsterdam's famous red light district.

Keep reading
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Brand new scheme to help women quit prostitution

The Scottish Government today announced plans for a new fund which addresses prostitution as a form of gender-based violence.

Keep reading

& society reflecting a better story for everyone.

At the heart of all of CARE’s work is our determination to uphold the truth that human beings made in God’s image are immensely valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

We want to show a better story for our culture and society, and we want to be part of shaping that in structures that we are given as citizens in the UK…

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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


Find out what CARE is arguing for in the public square