Briefing against clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services.
An amendment and two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP aim to make the purchase of sex illegal, remove the criminal sanctions against prostituted women and provide support to women who want to leave
We support the amendment which would remove the offence of loitering and soliciting for women working on the street . This decriminalisation should be extended to sex workers working from premises. The brothel-keeping legislation should be
amended so that women can work more safely together. In 2006, the Home Office acknowledged: . . . the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone.
We strongly oppose the clauses criminalising clients , on the basis of women's safety. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more
dangerous and stigmatising for women.
Any benefit from decriminalising loitering and soliciting will be cancelled if clients are criminalised. Women will have to go underground if clients are underground. Kerb-crawling legislation has already made it more dangerous for prostitute
women and men. In Scotland, since kerb-crawling legislation was introduced in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers have soared. Attacks reported to one project almost doubled in one year from 66 to 126.
Many of the claims that have been made about the impact of the 1999 Swedish law which criminalised clients are false and have no evidential basis.
The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.
The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.
Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).
Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.
The criminalisation of clients increases women's vulnerability to violence.
The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.
Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.
An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.
The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?
The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety
The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland  and in France.
Sex workers and campaigners joined forces in the House of Commons to lobby against sections of new Bill which would criminalise clients.
Members of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) argued that some clauses of the Modern Slavery Bill could increase the dangers faced by sex workers. ECP spokeswoman Niki Adams said:
We strongly oppose the criminalisation of clients, on the basis of women's safety. Despite claims that loitering and soliciting may be decriminalised, this will have little effect if clients are criminalised.
Prostitution will be pushed further underground, disrupting informal security systems among women on the street and displacing women into remote areas.
Offering solidarity at the event were members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos said:
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to criminalise individuals who are consenting adults having sex.
On health alone it is not sensible to criminalise people because it changes their behaviour and puts them at risk.
Fiona Taggart's amendment to criminalise the buying of sex was withdrawn without a vote.
The government and many MPs didn't seem to have an appetite to include controversial elements to a bill seemingly enjoying the support of most MPs. The only debate was that Labour wanted to go further than the Tories in measures against the wider
remit of trafficking.
As soon as the topic of prostitution was raised it was clearly that some sort of decision had already being taken. An amendment was proposed that would require the government to review prostitution policy. It seemed widely accepted that far
reaching changes of policy on prostitution would be better addressed with some sort of formal reviews being undertaken first. Even Fiona Taggart seemed to concur that it would be better to go this route rather than suddenly declaring large
numbers of men to be criminals. So her amendment did not proceed after these comments and was presumably withdrawn.
But the Taggart's speech triggered a few strong pro and anti speeches that gave a flavour of the controversy the government seemed keen to avoid.
The amendment to require the review was defeated in a vote. However it did seem to reflect an approach that went down well with MPs. The timing of being at the end of the 5 year term of this parliament seemed to make it all a bit doubtful for the
moment...but the idea has been implanted for the future.
Update: The sex workers are unsurprisingly well pleased
We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette
Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.
This is a massive victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short
notice, drew a good crowd. The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps,
queers and anti-racists opposed to this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.
MP John McDonnell's contribution to the debate in the Commons today was outstanding -- we have been worked closely with him over many years, including on defeating this measure. He made reference to the wide range of opposition, quoting from some
of the many briefings and letters people had sent him, and countered the false claims put forward by those promoting criminalisation.
As a result of so many people acting so quickly and so effectively we are now in a stronger position to demand full decriminalisation.
UK Home Affairs Committee sets up a biased inquiry clearly with the intention of jailing men for seeking the simple pleasures of life from sex workers, just so that mean minded feminists can feel good about their 'equality'
The Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into the way prostitution is treated in legislation. In particular, the inquiry will assess whether the balance in the burden of criminality should shift to those who pay for sex rather than
those who sell it. Saying that, the only discussion points on the agenda are in support of the premise.
Inquiry: Prostitution Home Affairs Committee
Terms of Reference
Written evidence is invited on the following issues:
Whether criminal sanction in relation to prostitution should continue to fall more heavily on those who sell sex, rather than those who buy it.
What the implications are for prostitution-related offences of the Crown Prosecution Service's recognition of prostitution as violence against women.
What impact the Modern Slavery Act 2015 has had to date on trafficking for purposes of prostitution, what further action is planned, and how effectively the impact is being measured.
Whether further measures are necessary, including legal reforms, to:
- Assist those involved in prostitution to exit from it
- Increase the extent to which exploiters are held to account
- Discourage demand which drives commercial sexual exploitation
Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted online by midday on Thursday 18 February 2016.
UK Parliament Committee recommends an immediate end to laws prohibiting soliciting and brothel keeping (when adult and consensual)...but will then consider whether men should be criminalised for buying sex
If the committee realises that current prohibitions endanger sex workers then it seems unlikely that they can recommend the criminalisation of men. Even if the crime of soliciting is repealed, then instead of soliciting, the sex workers will
be guilty of inciting men to commit a crime.
The Committee introduces an interim report saying:
The Home Affairs Committee publishes an interim report on prostitution, saying that soliciting by sex workers, and sex workers sharing premises, should be decriminalised.
Home Office should change legislation
The Committee says the Home Office should immediately change existing legislation so that soliciting is no longer an offence and brothel-keeping laws allow sex workers to share premises, without losing the ability to prosecute those who use
brothels to control or exploit sex workers. There must be zero tolerance of the organised criminal exploitation of sex workers.
The Home Office should also legislate to delete previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of sex workers, as these records make it much more difficult for people to move out of prostitution into other forms of work if
they wish to.
Around 11% of British men aged 16--74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals.
The number of sex workers in the UK is estimated to be around 72,800 with about 32,000 working in London.
Sex workers have an average of 25 clients per week paying an average of £78 per visit.
In 2014--15, there were 456 prosecutions of sex workers for loitering and soliciting.
An estimated 152 sex workers were murdered between 1990 and 2015. 49% of sex workers (in one survey) said that they were worried about their safety.
There were 1,139 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2014 and 248 in April to June 2015 (following implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015).
With regards to changing the laws on buying sex, this inquiry will continue. The Committee will be seeking further evidence on the impacts of the recently introduced sex buyer laws in Northern Ireland and France, and the model of regulation used
in for example New Zealand, to make a better assessment for its final report. The laws on prostitution need ultimately to be reconsidered in the round, not least to give the police much more clarity on where their priorities should lie and how
to tackle the exploitation and trafficking associated with the sex industry.
Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is an important and separate issue from prostitution involving consenting adults. It is too early to assess the impact of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 on levels of trafficking, but the Crown
Prosecution Service identified 248 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the first three months of the Act's operation, compared to 1,139 in 2014.
Research on prostitution
Despite the obvious difficulties involved in getting data on an essentially covert industry, the Committee is "dismayed" at the poor quality of information available about the extent and nature of prostitution in England and Wales. The
figures cited above must be considered in this context.
Without a proper evidence base, the Government cannot make informed decisions about the effectiveness of current legislation and policies, and cannot target funding and support interventions effectively. The Home Office should commission an
in-depth research study on the current extent and nature of prostitution in England and Wales, within the next 12 months.
Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
This is the first time that Parliament has considered the issue of prostitution in the round for decades. It is a polarising subject with strong views on all sides. This interim report will be followed by final recommendations, when we consider
other options, including the different approaches adopted by other countries.
As a first step, there has been universal agreement that elements of the present law are unsatisfactory. Treating soliciting as a criminal offence is having an adverse effect, and it is wrong that sex workers, who are predominantly women,
should be penalised and stigmatised in this way. The criminalisation of sex workers should therefore end.
The current law on brothel keeping also means sex-workers can be too afraid of prosecution to work together at the same premises, which can often compromise their safety. There must however be zero tolerance of the organised criminal
exploitation of sex workers, and changes to legislation should not lessen the Home Office's ability to prosecute those engaged in exploitation.
The Committee will evaluate a number of the alternative models as this inquiry continues, including the sex-buyers law as operated in Sweden, the full decriminalised model used in Denmark, and the legalised model used in Germany and the