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UK Parliamentary report calls for the Nordic model on prostitution

[Brussels, 18 March 2014] On 3 March 2014, the UK All-Party Parliamentary on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade issued a report on prostitution in the UK, entitled "Shifting the burden", and calling for criminalisation of the purchase of sex and demanding an end to the criminalisation of women in prostitution (solicitating).

The report is the outcome of a year-long inquiry into prostitution, which gathered more than 400 written and oral submissions of evidence. The European Women’s Lobby welcomes the outcome of this report, which is a step forward towards a better understanding of the reality of prostitution and the adoption of policies promoting gender equality and women’s human rights, dignity and security.

Here are the key arguments of the report:

  • “Those who sell sexual services carry the burden of criminality despite being those who are the most vulnerable to coercion and violence. This serves to normalize the purchase and stigmatise the sale of sexual services – and undermines efforts to minimize entry into and promote exit from prostitution. Moreover, legislation does not adequately address the gendered imbalance of harm within prostitution, and as such is detrimental to wider strategies which pursue gender equality”.
  • “Given the harm experienced by women involved in prostitution, it is entirely legitimate to seek to reduce instances of the sale of sexual services.”
  • “Prostitution is incompatible with attempts to tackle gender inequality, and inconsistent with measures to tackle human trafficking.”

Gavin Shuker, chair of the All Party Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade said: “The current UK law on prostitution is not working. It sends no clear signals about what we consider prostitution to be; in effect prioritising the gratification of punters, at the expense of often vulnerable women and girls. This cross-party inquiry kick-starts what for too long has remained an off-limits debate.”

Fiona Mactaggart MP, co-chair of the All Party Group on Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery, said: “The lack of effective government action to tackle the demand for prostitution draws women and girls across the UK into a vicious cycle of abuse and neglect. It also makes the UK a profitable location for sex-trafficking. The inadequacy of existing legislation and policy has created lucrative market conditions which are exploited by criminal gangs profiting from the sale of women. This enquiry makes substantial proposals which could prevent this vile trade.”

The EWL strongly hopes that this report will lead to progressive policies on prostitution in the UK, after the adoption of the EP resolution drafted by UK MEP Mary Honeyball.

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