Sex workers step up call to decriminalise prostitution

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MSP pushes ahead with plans to decriminalise elements of prostitution

17th December 2015 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

The call to decriminalise prostitution has been stepped up to coincide with International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (17 December). 

Campaign groups are backing independent MSP Jean Urquhart's proposals to decriminalise prostitution via the prostitution law reform (Scotland) bill.

The bill proposes up to four sex workers to be permitted to work from the same premises and a licensing system for premises in which more than four sex workers operate.

Measures to make street prostitution safer and stronger measures against the coercion of sex workers are also part of the bill.

Sex worker charity ScotPep, grassroots collective the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) and community health project Umbrella Lane support the changes.

Jean Urquhart's proposals can lead the way in Europe - Luca Stevenson

Urquhart said: "When I started speaking with sex workers in Scotland I was struck by what they told me about how the law makes them less safe.

"It should be unconscionable that the law makes sex workers so vulnerable to violence and I'm proud to have brought forward proposals that are based on what people who sell sex say will keep them safe.

"International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers should be a day of reflection and I hope that my colleagues in Holyrood will reflect on whether it should be acceptable for another year to pass with sex workers in Scotland still denied access to safety and justice.

Luca Stevenson, co-founder of Sex Worker Open University, said: "Jean Urquhart's proposals can lead the way in Europe in showing that laws built around respect for sex workers are possible."

17th December 2015 by Jonathan Roberts

Decriminalisation of prostitution is only useful if on the other side those buying sex are criminalised. Prostitution is a form if exploitation and violence against women. The victims should not be criminalised, only those who exploit them. Prostitition exists because of the demand, obviously. Therefore the demand side should be tackled by criminalising the purchase of sex, as in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Northern Ireland.

18th December 2015 by Paul Roy

If someone, of whatever gender or sexuality, wishes to sell sex and someone else wants to buy it, why criminalise either party? I fully understand that most sex workers have to work for financial reasons often owing to addiction and poverty and face horrendous violence, but surely rather than relying on the Criminal Justice System, underlying structural issues need addressing.