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Campaign to abolish prostitution

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Nordic Model Now!, decriminalise the prostituted, make buying sex illegal, fight female povertyIt is time to make it clear that buying human beings for sex is unacceptable.

October 5 is International Day of No Prostitution.

As well as raising awareness of the needs of prostituted people – in terms of helping them to exit and erasing their criminal record – it is a day to call on men to stop buying or selling anyone for sex, and to create ways and organise to stop prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women.

Prostitution causes damage to those in it and it can never be made safe and its existence makes women’s human right to equality with men a distant pipe dream.

Vast sums of money are made from a heinous trade in – mostly – women’s and children’s bodies and this leads inexorably to sex trafficking.

It is time to make it clear that buying human beings for sex is unacceptable and to create criminal sanctions that discourage people from doing it.

The Nordic Model approach to prostitution – sometimes also known as the Sex Buyer Law, or the Swedish, Abolitionist, or Equality Model – decriminalises all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them exit, and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence, in order to reduce the demand that drives sex trafficking.

The Nordic Model Now! movement for the abolition of prostitution does not want to criminalise people.

It does want to change behaviour.

And the Nordic Model Now! campaigners wants support to help those who are in prostitution make a new life outside it.

Each country that has introduced the Nordic Model approach has implemented it a little differently. It has been most successful in Sweden where it was introduced as part of a raft of legislative measures to tackle male violence against women and girls and to address sex inequality.

Nordic Model Now! campaigners believe we must learn from the experience in other countries and introduce the Nordic Model as part of a raft of measures.

The UK’s Nordic Model Now! campaigners are calling for:

1 – The full decriminalisation of those who are prostituted.

The evidence suggests that the majority of women and children enter prostitution as a result of childhood abuse, poverty and misfortune, grooming, coercion, and/or betrayal, rather than as a free choice between a number of viable options.

And the evidence is clear that prostitution is inherently violent and damages those in it and that getting out of it is much harder than getting into it.

And a criminal record makes getting out even harder.

We therefore call for the repeal of all the laws that target those who are prostituted and the clearing of their criminal records of any previous convictions for offences related to their own prostitution.

2 – High-quality services for those in prostitution.

We call for ring-fenced funding for high-quality services for those in prostitution.

These must be non-judgemental and cover harm reduction as well as exiting support, including housing, legal advice, addiction services, long-term emotional and psychological support, education and training, and childcare.

Because punters are almost entirely men, services for women should be female-only and services for men and transgendered people should be separate.

3 – Buying sex to be made a criminal offence.

We call for the purchase and attempted purchase of human beings for sex to be made a criminal offence, regardless of where in the world it takes place.

We do not believe British men should be free to cause damage in other countries.

As explained earlier, the aim is to change behaviour rather than to criminalise people.

We recommend a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

4 – The procuring, pimping and sex trafficking legislation to be strengthened

We believe that the UK’s pimping and sex trafficking legislation is not fit for purpose and we call for it to be replaced with stronger legislation that recognises procuring, pimping and sex trafficking as the human rights abuses that they are and for penalties that reflect this.

The policing of these crimes must be fully resourced and prioritised.

5 – All the factors that drive people into prostitution to be addressed

We do not accept prostitution as the answer for the poor and disadvantaged, for recent migrants, for single mothers, for women and children.

Or indeed for anyone.

We therefore call for a fairer and more equal society with a guaranteed minimum income for all, the elimination of the pay gap between women and men, better resources and support for parents and “looked after” children, an end to student fees and zero-hour contracts, and the tackling of all the other factors that trap people in poverty.

6 – A holistic approach.

A public information campaign;

To be effective, the Nordic Model must be accompanied by a widespread public information campaign – like the one that accompanied the change in the smoking laws.

Education programmes in schools – that explain honestly the damage that prostitution causes.

Training for police and others;

Experience in other countries has shown that for the Nordic Model to be effective, it needs to be accompanied by in-depth training for the police, judiciary, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and frontline workers in education, social services, local government, the NHS, etc.

The law to be prioritised and coordinated nationally;

For the Nordic Model approach to be effective, it needs to be prioritised and implemented consistently across the country, otherwise pimps and punters will simply move to areas where it is not enforced.

Similarly, services for those who are prostituted must be coordinated nationally and not be left to the localism agenda.

We do not accept that women and children should ever be for sale.

For information about services for women seeking to exit prostitution in the UK click here.

Children can call the free NSPCC helpline: 0800 1111.

In an emergency, or if you feel threatened, call 999.

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