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Time for Scotland to join other nations in criminalising the purchase of sex

Commercial Sexual Exploitation
3 November 2021
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Press release: For immediate release, 03/11/21

SCOTLAND should join Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and other nations in criminalising the purchase of sex, CARE has said, as MSPs debate legislative reform of prostitution laws.

This evening, following Decision Time at Holyrood, MSPs will consider a motion by Elena Whitham MSP on the law as it stands in Scotland.

The motion notes that “it is currently legal to perpetrate and profit from prostitution” and calls for the "burden of criminality" to shift "from the victims of sexual exploitation to those who perpetrate and profit from this abuse”.

Speaking ahead of the debate later today, Michael Veitch, Scottish Parliamentary Officer for CARE, which helped draft CSE legislation for Northern Ireland, welcomed the motion and endorsed its call for a shift in focus. Mr Veitch said:

“We believe the key to helping victims of commercial sexual exploitation lies in tackling demand for sex and improving support for those leaving exploitative situations.

"There is a well-established connection between prostitution and modern slavery. For as long as it remains legal for a person to pay for sex, there will be a market for exploitation and the sex trade. By criminalising the purchase of sex, we can sever the lifeline to these vile industries.

“We support making it an offence to purchase sexual services. This approach was adopted in Northern Ireland, and has been embedded in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and several other nations, with hugely positive results. It is past time that Scotland adopted it too.

“We call on the government to incorporate this aspect of the Nordic Model in its own ‘Model for Scotland’. We also call on Ministers to consider other initiatives that promote exiting prostitution. This includes proper funding for specialist services and appropriate signposting in every community.

“Victims of commercial sexual exploitation should also have access to the support they need to rebuild their lives. Scotland already has a law mandating provision of support to victims of human trafficking. It would be appropriate to take a similar approach to those exiting prostitution.”


Notes for Editors:

CARE is a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives.

For interview requests or more information please contact Jamie Gillies:

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Commercial Sexual Exploitation

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.

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