Comment on interim report by Home Affairs Select Committee

On Friday 1 July 2016 the Home Affairs Select Committee published an interim report as part of its prostitution inquiry. 

We are pleased that the Home Affairs Select Committee recognises the need to decriminalise people who sell sex. The overwhelming majority of women in prostitution are highly vulnerable before entering the trade and suffer acute harms as a result of their involvement.

It is crucial that the burden of criminality is lifted off those who sell sex and placed on the exploiters: the sex buyers. Without their demand there would be no ‘supply’ of mostly vulnerable women and girls into the sex trade.

Demand for prostitution is not inevitable. During the 1990’s the number of UK men who pay for sex nearly doubled. If demand can grow it can also shrink – and that is why the UK needs a Sex Buyer Law. This three-pronged approach decriminalises selling sex, criminalises paying for sex and provides support and exiting services for people exploited through prostitution. It is designed to end the demand that drives prostitution and sex trafficking. Most recently adopted by France, three of the four countries with the top ratings for gender equality worldwide operate a Sex Buyer Law. It is high time the whole of the UK joined them.

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