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Holyrood trafficking debate welcomed

Human Trafficking
9 June 2022
Thinking Pods

Press release | CARE for Scotland

Campaigners have welcomed a Holyrood debate on human trafficking and the welfare of Ukrainian refugees and called for action.

[Read a briefing sent to MSPs ahead of the debate]

Today, MSPs will debate Bill Kidd’s motion S6M-04703 ‘Making Scotland Hostile to Trafficking and a Safe Place for Ukrainian Refugees'.

Michael Veitch, of CARE for Scotland, which has campaigned successfully for better protection for victims of trafficking, commented:

"Having campaigned for the reform of prostitution law over many years, in particular for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, and for action to address the scourge of human trafficking in modern Scotland, we strongly welcome the motion.

"The recent tragic events in Ukraine have underlined the urgent necessity for action in this area. The Scottish Government and Parliament have the powers to act and should do so without further delay."

CARE for Scotland is urging action from MSPs to ensure the safety of refugees, including thousands of vulnerable women and children arriving from Ukraine.

Its briefing for MSPs sent ahead of the debate states:

"It is sickening that extremely vulnerable women and children, displaced from their homeland by war, and in desperate need of a safe place, are at risk of exploitation by sex traffickers. CARE for Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government applying more stringent background checks to all hosts and not just where children are involved– as is the case in England.

"It is however essential that these refugees do not ‘fall off the radar’ once they have been set up with hosts. There must be adequate follow-up checks by local authorities who are trained to spot the signs of exploitation. We also recommends a crackdown on unofficial social media groups being used to match prospective hosts with refugees in need of safety. Such sites can quickly become a forum for traffickers and those with malign intentions".

CARE for Scotland has also joined other groups in calling for the purchase of sex to be criminalised, challenging demand for prostitution in Scotland.

The briefing further states:

"CARE for Scotland believes the only way to achieve the aims of Equally Safe and to reduce the harmful impact of prostitution is to make it a criminal offence to purchase sexual services and provide programmes to support women to exit prostitution. This approach, referred to as the ‘Nordic model’ has been adopted by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Ireland, Israel, and in Northern Ireland. Evaluations of the longest standing laws in Sweden and Norway have both seen a positive impact on levels of prostitution.

"Claims by some that so-called ‘sex work’ laws in Scotland cause no harm to women have been exposed as an illusion. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have recently issued warnings that the threat posed to Ukrainian refugees by sex traffickers underlines the need for politicians across Europe to challenge demand for sex through legislation... The need to tackle the demand for paid sexual services which drives sex trafficking is not new, however the evolving Ukraine crisis makes action to criminalise the purchase of sex even more urgent."

ENDS

Notes for Editors

CARE for Scotland provides analysis of social policy from a Christian perspective.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Jamie Gillies | jamie.gillies@care.org.uk

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