The change we need

Scotland's prostitution laws are outdated and unjust.

Online pimping is legal, men who exploit women by paying for sex enjoy impunity, while women abused through prostitution can face criminal sanctions for soliciting.

It's time to right these legal wrongs. 

We need a progressive legal model in Scotland that shifts the burden of criminality off victims of sexual exploitation and on to those who perpetrate and profit from this abuse.

We need a model for Scotland that:

  • Deters demand from men who pay for sex

  • Holds pimps and traffickers to account 

  • Supports, rather than sanctions, victims of sexual exploitation

 

Violence against women - perpetrated with impunity

The Scottish Government recognises prostitution as a form of violence against women in its national strategy to prevent violence against women - Equally Safe.

 

Yet, it is currently legal to perpetrate and profit from this form of violence against women.

 

  • 4% of men in Scotland report having paid for sex in the past five years, according to latest figures. Despite being officially recognised as a form of violence against women, men who pay for sex enjoy legal impunity.

  • Hugely lucrative pimping websites - which contain online ‘catalogues’ of women being advertised for prostitution - operate openly and legally in Scotland. A recent inquiry by a Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group concluded that these websites incentivise and facilitate sex trafficking. 

  • Women who are sexually exploited can themselves face criminal sanctions for soliciting (under Section 46 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982). This can make it harder for women to leave the sex trade and access support.

Scotland must end impunity for pimps and punters - and provide support, not sanctions, for victims of sexual exploitation.

 

The Scottish Government has pledged action. Now it must deliver.

The Scottish Government has committed to develop a model for Scotland that challenges men's demand for prostitution and supports women to exit sexual exploitation. This pledge must now translate into real, meaningful action.

“We are committing to develop a model specifically for Scotland that will reduce the harms of prostitution, support women to exit it and, crucially, challenge men’s demand for purchasing sex.”

 

- Ash Denham MSP, Minister for Community Safety, 

Scottish Government, 2021

 

“We will develop a model for Scotland to tackle this form of violence against women and girls, and consider how aspects of international approaches which seek to challenge men’s demand for prostitution would be best applied in Scotland.” 

 

- SNP Manifesto 2021

 

A Model for Scotland

Scotland needs a progressive legal model that shifts the burden of criminality off victims of sexual exploitation and on to those who perpetrate and profit from this abuse.

To prevent sexual exploitation and deliver justice to victims, the Scottish Government must:

  • Decriminalise victims of sexual exploitation by repealing Section 46 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

  • Wipe previous convictions for soliciting from victims’ criminal records.

  • Criminalise online pimping. 

  • Criminalise paying for sex. 

  • Provide comprehensive, resourced support and exiting services for victims of sexual exploitation.