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Time for Scotland to criminalise purchase of sex

Commercial Sexual Exploitation
18 January 2024
Woman looking out window trafficking

The Scottish Government is being urged to take forward legislation targeting those who purchase sex, after dragging its heels on the issue.

Charity CARE for Scotland points to the “positive impact” of sex buyers’ laws in other countries, including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Canada.

Speaking ahead of the launch of a new report on the issue, to be debated at Holyrood on Thursday, Michael Veitch, Scotland Policy Officer at CARE, said:

“CARE welcomes this report, which evidences the positive impact of purchase of sex laws. We campaigned successfully for legislation in Northern Ireland that criminalised the purchase of sex and mandated support for women who want to exit prostitution. Having both these measures in place ensures a deterrent to exploitation and help for the exploited.

“We note the Scottish Government’s previous recognition that prostitution is a form of ‘violence against women’ and pledge to develop a tailored Scottish model to tackle prostitution, and yet this form of gender-based violence remains legal in Scotland today – a situation that should be unthinkable. It is past time the Scottish Government made progress.

“The connection between the so-called ‘sex trade’ and modern slavery is beyond doubt. Commercial sexual exploitation is closely linked to human trafficking and exploitation. Claims by some that prostitution causes no harm to women have also been found to be an illusion. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has been clear in this regard.

“To challenge trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, we should make it a criminal offence to purchase sexual services and ensure that programmes are in place to support women to exit prostitution. A similar approach has been adopted by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Ireland, Israel, and in Northern Ireland. Scotland must follow their lead.”


Notes for Editors

A briefing on sex buyers’ laws is available here:


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Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) is a social policy charity, bringing Christian insight to the policies and laws that affect our lives. Contact us:

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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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