Calls for Scotland to criminalise purchase of sex

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A Christian charity is calling on the Scottish government to follow other countries in criminalising the purchase of sex. 

CARE for Scotland is urging the Scottish government to push ahead with legislation that would target the demand side. 

It accused the Scottish government of "dragging its heels on the issue" and said it should follow the positive example of other countries like Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Canada that have already introduced similar laws penalising sex buyers. 

The issue was debated in the Scottish Parliament last week but CARE's Scotland policy officer, Michael Veitch, expressed frustration at the lack of progress being made.

He said that the Scottish government should take note of the "positive impact" of sex buyers' laws in other countries where criminalising the purchase of sex while also mandating support for women who want to leave prostitution behind "ensures a deterrent to exploitation and help for the exploited". 

"We note the Scottish Government's previous recognition that prostitution is a form of 'violence against women' and pledge to develop a tailored Scottish model to tackle prostitution, and yet this form of gender-based violence remains legal in Scotland today – a situation that should be unthinkable," he said.

"It is past time the Scottish Government made progress.

"The connection between the so-called 'sex trade' and modern slavery is beyond doubt. Commercial sexual exploitation is closely linked to human trafficking and exploitation.

"Claims by some that prostitution causes no harm to women have also been found to be an illusion. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has been clear in this regard.

"To challenge trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, we should make it a criminal offence to purchase sexual services and ensure that programmes are in place to support women to exit prostitution. A similar approach has been adopted by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Ireland, Israel, and in Northern Ireland. Scotland must follow their lead."