woman looking out onto the road

New campaign to criminalise buying sex in the Netherlands

A new campaign has been launched in the Netherlands, inspired in part by Christians, to introduce new laws to make buying sex illegal.

It would represent a fundamental change of approach to prostitution in a country infamous for having some of the most liberal prostitution laws anywhere in the world.

The campaign is called ‘I am priceless’ and it wants a Nordic-style law to be introduced by the Dutch Parliament, which meets in the Hague.

More than 40,000 young people have signed a petition to this effect which means it will now be debated by Dutch politicians.

The ‘Nordic model’

The so-called ‘Nordic model’ refers to laws introduced first in Sweden which criminalise the purchase of sex. Since being introduced in 1999, reports suggest prostitution levels in Sweden have gone down.

Since then, a growing number of countries have followed suit. At the beginning of the year, buying sex was made a criminal offence in Israel. Other countries where it is also illegal include France, Canada, Iceland, Norway and the Republic of Ireland.

What about the UK?

At the moment, the only part of the UK where buying sex is illegal is Northern Ireland. Since the law was introduced there have bee a number of successful prosecutions. However, no such law exists in Scotland, England or Wales.

Why the Nordic model?

We believe it to be the most effective way of protecting vulnerable people in prostitution from exploitation and harm. While a small minority say they have chosen to get involved in prostitution, the evidence suggests the vast majority are involved due to reasons beyond their control.

Making it illegal to purchase sex has been proven to reduce prostitution levels and also deter human traffickers. That is because a demand for paid sex is one of the biggest drivers behind human trafficking across the globe.

CARE’s response to the campaign

CARE’s Senior Policy Officer – Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich said: “It’s great to see a Christian-inspired campaign launched in the Netherlands which wants to criminalise the purchase of sex.

“CARE believes that people were created for purpose, not purchase. Buying someone’s body is a violation of their fundamental dignity as a human being.

“There is clearly strong support for a new approach in the Netherlands towards prostitution, especially among well-informed young people. This is hugely significant because the Netherlands has some of the most liberal laws anywhere in the world, as evidenced by the infamous red-light district in Amsterdam.

“Criminalising the purchase of sex has been proven to be effective at reducing demand for paid sex, making the country less attractive to human traffickers and reducing prostitution levels.

“In the United Kingdom, the only place where it’s illegal to purchase sex is Northern Ireland and Christians, feminist groups and others worked together in 2014/15 to see that progressive step introduced, much like this new, “I am priceless” campaign in the Netherlands.

“It’s high time a new law was introduced at Westminster and at the Scottish Parliament to bring Great Britain into line with Northern Ireland, so the purchase of sex is criminalised in every part of the UK.”

Find out more

Read our quotes in this story on Premier’s website

You can also read more on the Christian Today website

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