About End Demand
We are calling on the UK government to end demand for sex trafficking and exploitation through prostitution by adopting the Sex Buyer Law.
Approximately 80,000 people, mostly women, are involved in prostitution in the UK (1). The overwhelming majority of people who end up in the prostitution trade are highly vulnerable and suffer acute harms as a result of their involvement. It is estimated that:
- 50% of women in prostitution in the UK started being paid for sex acts before they were 18 years old (2)
- 95% of women in street prostitution are problematic drug users (3)
- Over half of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been raped and/or sexually assaulted – the vast majority of these assaults committed by sex buyers (4)
The trafficking of women and girls in to England and Wales to be brutally exploited through the prostitution trade is worth at least £130 million annually to their abusers (5).
The Sex Buyer Law or ‘Nordic Model’, as it is often known, requires government to take three crucial actions to tackle this abuse:
- Decriminalise the sale of sex acts
- Criminalise the buying of sex acts
- Provide support and exiting services for those exploited through prostitution
The Sex Buyer Law is a vital tool for preventing commercial sexual exploitation. It has been adopted by three of the four countries with the highest ratings for gender equality worldwide (6). The Council of Europe has named it “the most effective tool for preventing and combating trafficking in human beings” (7).
The prostitution trade – and the trafficking of women in to it – is underpinned by the principles of supply and demand. Without the current demand from a minority of men to pay for sex, there would be no ‘supply’ of women and girls in to this exploitative trade. To end the exploitation, we have to end the demand.
(1) ‘Paying the Price: A Consultation Paper on Prostitution’, Home Office, 2004
(2) ‘Paying the Price: A Consultation Paper on Prostitution’, Home Office, 2004
(3) Hester, M. & Westmarland, N. (2004) Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an Holistic Approach, Home Office: London
(4) Hester, M. & Westmarland, N. (2004) Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an Holistic Approach, Home Office: London
(5) ‘Trafficking of women for sex in UK worth £130m’, the Telegraph, 7 October 2013
(6) Iceland is 1, Norway is 3 and Sweden is 4. World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2012
(7) ‘Sex Buyer Laws Win Council Of Europe Support’, STOP Traffick! 1 April 2014.