The Scottish Government today announced plans for a new fund which addresses prostitution as a form of gender-based violence.
From spring 2020, frontline projects supporting women in Scotland will be able to apply to the fund, as well as initiatives designed to tackle men’s demand for prostitution.
The fund was announced by Community Safety Minister Ash Denham in a speech to the ‘Purchasing Power – Men Who Buy Sex’ conference in Glasgow.
Tackling violence against women
The conference, which is organised by Glasgow City Council, NHS Health Scotland and the Women’s Support Project, looks at the connection between commercial sexual exploitation and violence against women.
In her speech, Ms Denham said:
“The harsh reality for women engaged in prostitution is that they are at risk of violence and victimisation and their sexual health may be compromised.
“While recorded crimes for prostitution have substantially decreased in the last ten years, the circumstances that may lead to involvement in prostitution remain. In 2020, much of the related harm occurs behind closed doors and is hidden from public view.
“The fund I have announced today will support new and innovative work aimed at addressing those issues through frontline services, as well as initiatives to challenge demand for prostitution.”
The ‘Addressing Prostitution as a Form of Gender-based Violence' fund is part of Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.
The strategy adopts the position that prostitution disproportionately affects women and is therefore a form of gendered violence. This is evidenced by the fact that, in the last 10 years in Scotland, 99.8% of convictions for kerb crawling or loitering in order to buy sex were made against men.
One of the outcomes of the strategy aims to ensure that ‘men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls, and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response’.
The Scottish Government have also committed to hold a national consultation to gather views on how to tackle men’s demand for prostitution, and how to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and help individuals exit. The results of this consultation will be published later this year.
CARE welcomes this move by the Scottish Government. We have consistently campaigned that prostitution is a form of gendered violence against women and that more needs to be done to tackle the demand for the purchase of sex in Scotland, and to help women rebuild their lives.
Stuart Weir, Director of CARE for Scotland, commented on the Government’s announcement:
“The announcement today to produce a fund to support frontline services for women who have been at the brunt of gender-based violence is very welcome and a massive encouragement for women ensnared in prostitution.
“Ash Denham, along with others, has long been a champion of this cause within Scottish politics and the lead of such in the Scottish Government.
“We wholeheartedly welcome this move and hope that much more can be done into the future.”