Studies indicate that the majority of women enter prostitution under the age of 18 and that childhood abuse, poverty, drug dependency and homelessness are key triggers into prostitution. Once in prostitution, sexual and physical assault is common and 9 out of 10 surveyed women say they would exit prostitution if they could.
It is essential that those selling sexual acts are decriminalised and that support services are provided to exit prostitution. Furthermore, legislation is needed to curb the demand for prostitution that expands the industry and fuels trafficking.
Proposals to criminalise the buying of sex from a person subjected to force are a welcome step towards shifting criminal liability to those who purchase sexual acts. However, it does not go far enough in terms of ending exploitation through prostitution and preventing future generations from being coerced into the sex industry.
We therefore urge the government to follow the ‘Nordic model’ which decriminalises those who sell sexual acts whilst criminalising those who purchase them. This approach has been adopted by Sweden, Norway and Iceland, as part of their end violence against women policies.
Demand Change! Petition