The recommendations made in the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee’s report on prostitution do not go far enough to protect women exploited by the sex trade, said the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) today.
“We welcome the report’s conclusion that our current legislative framework for prostitution does not work,” said Party leader Sophie Walker. “In our submission to the committee, we called for the full decriminalisation of women who sell sex and the commitment to improved support and exiting services to people who sell sex. It is pleasing that both of these have been endorsed.”
But she added that the report failed to recognise the exploitation inherent in the sex trade, and its dependence on wider structural inequalities between men and women.
“To end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in the sex trade, demand needs to be reduced,” said Walker. “The protection of people who sell sex should not be extended to pimps and sex buyers.”
The report dismisses the sex buyer law, also known as the Nordic Model, as being ‘based on the premise that prostitution is morally wrong and should therefore be illegal’. WEP recognise that there are many different reasons why people sell sex, but argue that social policy needs to tackle the realities of the majority.
“This is not a ‘moral’ argument, it is one built on the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who sell sex are controlled by pimps,” said Walker. “Evidence shows that the Nordic model reduces sex trafficking. It is not about morality, it is about equality.”
But she applauded the report’s suggestions to legislate in order to delete previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of women who have sold sex.
“It is unacceptable to treat people who have been victimised by the sex trade as criminals,” she said. “This is known to significantly reduce the opportunities of women who exit the sex trade to get jobs and continue with their lives. We also welcome the focus on vulnerability of young people to sexual exploitation and WE strongly support the call for more detailed research and analysis of the realities of the sex industry.”