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Prostitution consultation deeply misguided

Human Trafficking
8 September 2015
Flickr Thomas Simon Silhouette of girls walking street 2 2

A consultation calling for prostitution to be decriminalised has been slammed by anti-trafficking charity CARE for Scotland.

The consultation, launched by independent MSP Jean Urquhart who is standing down after next year’s Holyrood elections, would allow the keeping of brothels, soliciting and kerb crawling all currently illegal under Scots law.

CARE for Scotland said the consultation was deeply misguided and would send a terrible message to victims and those who find themselves in prostitution because of a range of external factors such as poverty, abuse or trafficking.

The charity is calling on the Scottish Government to bring forward a new piece of legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex, a method proven to help reduce trafficking levels in Nordic countries.

The charity has already urged MSPs to consider Northern Ireland’s trafficking laws, where the purchase of sexual services is banned, as a template for Scotland to follow.

CARE for Scotland Parliamentary Officer Dr Gordon Macdonald said:

“This new consultation effectively amounts to the decriminalisation of prostitution and not only is this deeply misguided it also represents entirely the wrong approach.

“This consultation is wrong in principle and would be a disaster in practise.

“It is utterly contradictory when the Scottish Government is about to bring in new anti-trafficking laws to then call for the decriminalisation of prostitution which will only empower pimps and brothel owners.

“Exploiting another human being for sexual pleasure is never right and a crucial part of addressing the harm done through prostitution is cutting the demand for paid sex.

“If you look at major reports from the European Parliament, it is clear the evidence favours banning the purchase of sexual services as an effective means of lowering trafficking levels.

“We have an opportunity to introduce anti-trafficking laws that will empower victims and help deal with the scourge of human trafficking yet these laws will be completely undermined if the measures suggested by this consultation are ever introduced.”

Notes to Editors:

For more information contact James Mildred on 0207 227 4731 / 07581153693 or email

The Scottish Government are committed to conducting research into banning the purchase of sex with further announcements on that expected in the coming months.

A resolution passed by a large majority by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in April 2014 states: "Although they are distinct phenomena, trafficking in human beings and prostitution are closely linked. It is estimated that 84 per cent of victims in Europe are trafficked to be forced into prostitution, victims of trafficking represent a large share of sex workers."

CARE for Scotland campaigns along with other organisations as part of Abolition Scotland and the charity has previously called for the purchase of sex to be banned:

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