Glasgow calls for an end to prostitution now
A ground-breaking bid to criminalise the purchase of sex will be launched in City Halls, Glasgow at 10am on December 8.
Led by Councillor James Coleman, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, the ‘End Prostitution Now’ campaign is pushing for amendments to proposed and existing legislation which will create a range of offences designed to target the purchase of sex.
These offences would affect those who buy or seek to buy sex, those who arrange or advertise the sale of sex and those who provide accommodation where the sale of sex takes place.
West Renfrewshire MSP Trish Godman will be pledging her support to the campaign by proposing legislative amendments in the Scottish Parliament in the coming weeks. Backing has also been building among other MSPs, councillors, unions, faith groups and other support groups.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the harm caused through prostitution and to put the focus firmly on the buyers of sex, who create the demand, and who have in the past been invisible from public debate.
Posters highlighting the experience of men who have bought sex will be unveiled at the launch and a dedicated website has been created so the public can sign up in support of the campaign and call for a change in the law.
Councillor Coleman, who has led Glasgow’s response to the issue of prostitution for the past ten years, is heartened by the progress that has been made in terms of challenging public opinion on prostitution and effecting changes to the law. But he believes that legislation must go further and send an unequivocal message that buying sex will not be tolerated.
He said: “Prostitution is an appalling form of human exploitation. It blights the lives of those involved, their families and the communities where this awful trade takes place.
“Tackling demand is the key to this issue. It is demand which fuels the vicious cycle of sexual exploitation that supplies vulnerable people in to the sex industry.
“The recent kerb crawling legislation went some way to address demand, but it left significant gaps. The amendments we propose will extend the reach of the law so there is no hiding place for the pimps, punters and brothel keepers who prey upon others.
“Treating individuals as commodities to be bought and sold is an attitude which was unacceptable in the 19th century and there is no reason why it should be acceptable now. By legislating against demand we will be sending a clear message that people are no longer for sale in this way.
“It is time to assign responsibility where it belongs, with the buyers of sex, and to end prostitution now.”
The cornerstone of the campaign is a proposed amendment to section 72 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) bill, which is currently before the Scottish Parliament. The terms of the amendment would allow for closure of premises involved in the ‘facilitation of the sale of sexual services’. An amendment to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 would then be used to create and define the offence ‘facilitation of the sale of sexual services’.
Trish Godman MSP said: “We believe these amendments present a simple but devastatingly effective means of challenging demand for prostitution. Introducing these amendments as law would ensure that anyone involved in the purchase, marketing or facilitation of sexual services would be criminalised whether these acts took place on the street or indoors.
“Every shred of evidence indicates that prostitution is inherently harmful. It is incredible that something which so clearly breaches an individual’s right to dignity, equality, respect and physical and mental well-being has gone unhindered for so long. We must end prostitution now and these amendments will give us the power to make that happen.”
Strathclyde Police Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton added: “We must collectively stem the demand for the purchase of sex by engaging with the public to change social attitudes. The Police Service has a role to play in this by enforcing the relevant legislation and contributing to the wider debate with our partners.”
Notes to Editors – the launch of the ‘End Prostitution Now’ will take in place in the Recital Room, City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow on Tuesday, December 8 at 10am. You are invited to attend.
Speakers at the event will include Councillor James Coleman, Trish Godman MSP and Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton of Strathclyde Police.
Renowned Scottish actor David Hayman will also give readings based on comments made to researchers by men who have purchased sex. David will be supported by John Wheatley College lecturer Marlyn Barr, who will give readings based on the experience of women who have been purchased for sex.
Images of the posters to be used in the campaign will follow.
Support for the campaign can be pledged at www.endprostitutionnow.org
Further information on the campaign can also be accessed at this address.
For the purposes of the amendment to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 ‘sexual services’ would be defined as ‘any touching or penile penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus or any other sex act, sexual activity or contact of a sexual nature in exchange for the payment of money, goods or any other service’.
Key facts about prostitution include:
- Nine out of ten women surveyed would like to exit prostitution,
- Over 50% of women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously
sexually assaulted; at least 75% have been physically assaulted.
- Almost half of women involved in prostitution report a history of childhood
- 75% of women in prostitution become involved when they are under the
age of eighteen-years-old.
- 79% of survivors of prostitution suffer post-traumatic stress disorder,
which is in same category as war veterans and victims of state organised
- 2008 research from the Poppy Project found that victims of trafficking
would pressurised to see between six and 20 clients a day.
-Ten years after similar legislation was introduced in Sweden, 80% of
Swedish people now deem prostitution to be unacceptable.