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 Criminalising Paying for Sex in England and Wales

Sex Machines
Sex Machines

 A selfish campaign to lock up men
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5th March
2014

 Offsite Article: The deluded idea of making sex illegal to buy...

adam smith institute logoOne lunacy is ASBOs being used instead of criminal punishment. Effectively it means repeat offenders are jailed. Given that under current law no one is jailed for being a prostitute, this is an increase, not a decrease

See article from adamsmith.org

 

7th March
2014

 Offsite Article: Caveat Emptor...

economist logoBritain's prostitution laws are a mess. The proposed alternatives are worse

See article from economist.com

 

20th August
2014

 Offsite Article: Sex work in the UK: Just what would decriminalising prostitution mean?...

brooke magnantiAn article in the Economist reignited the debate around legalising prostitution in the UK. Dr Brooke Magnanti explores what decriminalisation would look like and says that we're long overdue a rethink of workers' rights

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

25th October
2014

 Update: Reasons to vote UKIP: Yvette Cooper...

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Labour plans to criminalise buying sex
yvette coopert A Labour government would criminalise people who buy sex, if elected.

PC extremist Yvette Cooper was weighing up announcing in her party conference speech that if she became Home Secretary she would make buying sex illegal.

In the end the proposal was cut from the final draft for the speech, but surely not from Labour's plans.

 

6th November
2014

 Updated: Parliamentary amendment to criminalise the buying of sex...

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Another people hating plan by Labour to jail innocent men and ruin their lives
House of Commons logo This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net ) have prepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims to criminalise sex workers' clients.

Please send your objections (model letter below) to the clause as soon as possible. It will be discussed next Tuesday 4 November in the Report Stage of the Bill. Please send letters to the Chair of the Modern Slavery Bill Committee   Frank Field MP the rest of the committee and to  John McDonnell MP .

Briefing against clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services.

An amendment and two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP aim to make the purchase of sex illegal, remove the criminal sanctions against prostituted women and provide support to women who want to leave prostitution .

We support the amendment which would remove the offence of loitering and soliciting for women working on the street . This decriminalisation should be extended to sex workers working from premises. The brothel-keeping legislation should be amended so that women can work more safely together. In 2006, the Home Office acknowledged: . . . the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone.

We strongly oppose the clauses criminalising clients , on the basis of women's safety. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for women.

Any benefit from decriminalising loitering and soliciting will be cancelled if clients are criminalised. Women will have to go underground if clients are underground. Kerb-crawling legislation has already made it more dangerous for prostitute women and men. In Scotland, since kerb-crawling legislation was introduced in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers have soared. Attacks reported to one project almost doubled in one year from 66 to 126.

Many of the claims that have been made about the impact of the 1999 Swedish law which criminalised clients are false and have no evidential basis.

  1. The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.

  2. The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.

  3. Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).

  4. Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.

  5. The criminalisation of clients increases women's vulnerability to violence.

  6. The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.

  7. Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.

  8. An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.

  9. Racist implementation

  10. The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?

  11. The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety

  12. The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland [31] and in France.

...Read the full article

Update: The sex workers lobby

4th November 2014. See  article from  morningstaronline.co.uk

English Collective of Prostitutes logo Sex workers and campaigners joined forces in the House of Commons to lobby against sections of new Bill which would criminalise clients.

Members of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) argued that some clauses of the Modern Slavery Bill could increase the dangers faced by sex workers. ECP spokeswoman Niki Adams said:

We strongly oppose the criminalisation of clients, on the basis of women's safety. Despite claims that loitering and soliciting may be decriminalised, this will have little effect if clients are criminalised.

Prostitution will be pushed further underground, disrupting informal security systems among women on the street and displacing women into remote areas.

Offering solidarity at the event were members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos said:

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to criminalise individuals who are consenting adults having sex.

On health alone it is not sensible to criminalise people because it changes their behaviour and puts them at risk.

Update: Amendment withdrawn

4th November 2014. See parliamentary debate transcription from publications.parliament.uk

House of Commons logo Fiona Taggart's amendment to criminalise the buying of sex was withdrawn without a vote.

The government and many MPs didn't seem to have an appetite to include controversial elements to a bill seemingly enjoying the support of most MPs. The only debate was that Labour wanted to go further than the Tories in measures against the wider remit of trafficking.

As soon as the topic of prostitution was raised it was clearly that some sort of decision had already being taken. An amendment was proposed that would require the government to review prostitution policy. It seemed widely accepted that far reaching changes of policy on prostitution would be better addressed with some sort of formal reviews being undertaken first. Even Fiona Taggart seemed to concur that it would be better to go this route rather than suddenly declaring large numbers of men to be criminals. So her amendment did not proceed after these comments and was presumably withdrawn.

But the Taggart's speech triggered a few strong pro and anti speeches that gave a flavour of the controversy the government seemed keen to avoid.

The amendment to require the review was defeated in a vote. However it did seem to reflect an approach that went down well with MPs. The timing of being at the end of the 5 year term of this parliament seemed to make it all a bit doubtful for the moment...but the idea has been implanted for the future.

Update: The sex workers are unsurprisingly well pleased

6th November 2014. See  article from  prostitutescollective.net

English Collective of Prostitutes logo We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.

This is a massive victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short notice, drew a good crowd. The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps, queers and anti-racists opposed to this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.

MP John McDonnell's contribution to the debate in the Commons today was outstanding -- we have been worked closely with him over many years, including on defeating this measure. He made reference to the wide range of opposition, quoting from some of the many briefings and letters people had sent him, and countered the false claims put forward by those promoting criminalisation.

As a result of so many people acting so quickly and so effectively we are now in a stronger position to demand full decriminalisation.

 

1st April
2015

 Offsite Article: No to Client Criminalisation...

English Collective of Prostitutes logoBy Niki Adams, English Collective of Prostitutes

See article from prostitutescollective.net

 

17th January
2016

  Glorying in Jailing Men...

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UK Home Affairs Committee sets up a biased inquiry clearly with the intention of jailing men for seeking the simple pleasures of life from sex workers, just so that mean minded feminists can feel good about their 'equality'

home affairs committee The Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into the way prostitution is treated in legislation. In particular, the inquiry will assess whether the balance in the burden of criminality should shift to those who pay for sex rather than those who sell it. Saying that, the only discussion points on the agenda are in support of the premise.

Inquiry: Prostitution Home Affairs Committee

Terms of Reference

Written evidence is invited on the following issues:

  • Whether criminal sanction in relation to prostitution should continue to fall more heavily on those who sell sex, rather than those who buy it.
  • What the implications are for prostitution-related offences of the Crown Prosecution Service's recognition of prostitution as violence against women.
  • What impact the Modern Slavery Act 2015 has had to date on trafficking for purposes of prostitution, what further action is planned, and how effectively the impact is being measured.
  • Whether further measures are necessary, including legal reforms, to:
    - Assist those involved in prostitution to exit from it
    - Increase the extent to which exploiters are held to account
    - Discourage demand which drives commercial sexual exploitation

Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted online by midday on Thursday 18 February 2016.

 

22nd February
2016

 Commented: Let's Jail Everybody...

Feminist campaigners line up to support jailing men for paying for sex just so they can feel good about their own equality

Sex Buyer Law

See  article from independent.co.uk

House of Commons logo A parliamentary group comprised of MPs seeking to criminalise men for buying sex have commissioned a report from a strident campaign group supporting the same cause.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution commissioned a report from the campaign group End Demand. And shock horror, the report is a one sided diatribe of nastiness grasping at the vengeful opportunity to jail men just for wanting to get laid.

The extreme proposal from End Demand calls for British men who buy sex from sex workers while abroad on stag parties should be prosecuted in the UK under new laws that make paying for sex illegal. See proposal from enddemand.uk

Sex tourists and businessmen who pay for prostitutes on expense accounts would also be criminalised under the campaign groups proposals in the Sex Buyer Law report.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution chairman, Gavin Shuker, Labour MP for Luton South spewed:

Speaking personally, I think the idea has merit for one simple reason: many people's first experience of buying sex takes place abroad.

Criminalise the sex buyers, not the prostitutes

See  article from theguardian.com Catherine Bennett

The Guardian In its report, Shifting the Burden , the all-party group recommended the introduction, instead, of a sex-buyer offence, of following the Nordic model. It then asked End Demand , a campaign to end commercial sexual exploitation, to find out how this could be implemented. The resulting report, produced by a commission on the sex buyer law, is to be launched in parliament this week. This concludes -- on the basis of evidence from Nottingham and Suffolk, as well as countries such as Sweden, which criminalise buyers -- that a similar law is overdue here, to reduce both the human and economic cost of prostitution.

Having participated in that commission, along with, among others, Alan Caton and Diane Martin, a survivor of the sex trade who has helped others to exit, I find it harder than ever to understand how any politician, local or otherwise, would want to perpetuate, by legalising it, a trade so staggeringly unequal and so dependent on the trafficked and marginalised. In Germany, which did precisely that in 2002, the resulting brothels are warehouses of migrant women, pimped for bargain basement prices. Legalisation has failed, it turns out, both to inspire more gallantry in clients and to convince many German women that supplying oral and anal sex on demand could make a nice change from waitressing.

Comment: Disgraceful article by Catherine Bennett in today's Observer

22nd February 2016. Thanks to Alan

letter writing There is an appalling article by Catherine Bennett in today's Observer, pimping the Nordic model . I'm baffled that a purportedly liberal newspaper should print this grotesquely illiberal crap, taking any bullshit spouted by an authoritarian Swedish pseudo-feminist as gospel. So, for Bennett, the nasty Swedish minister of injustice points out blah, blah, blah.... Err, no, point out is a factive verb, claiming veracity for what follows. The minister actually tendentiously claims blah, blah, blah....

The Guardian and Observer really seem all over the place where sex is concerned. They seem to have a check list of approved sexual behaviours/persons. Hence they're all for buggery by male homosexuals, whom only a bigot would prevent from marrying one another, but Bennett has a fit of the vapours at the very idea of a lady of the night letting a bloke up her bum. At least the traditional taboos imposed by religion had a logical secular motive - to encourage legitimate offspring by condemning sexual practices that couldn't produce kids (buggery, masturbation) or cast doubt on their legitimacy (adultery). The Guardian/Observer system seems to pick its does and don't at random.

Needless to say, totally absent from Bennett's drivel is any input from women who actually work in the industry. When one considers that Max Mosley' lady friends were routinely described as prostitutes (and Lord Justice Eady seemed to acquiesce in that description), I wonder whether Bennett and the Observer might not more usefully consider why a woman with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry finds it more satisfying and/or remunerative to have her bum spanked than to use her academic qualifications in lecture theatre or lab.

 

26th February
2016

 Offsite Article: Sex workers don't need anti-prostitution zealots to save them...

The IndependentThe UK has a rapidly-growing rescue industry: one that makes its living from identifying and creating victims of sexual slavery. It is in its interest to find them. Lots of them. By Laura Connelly

See article from independent.co.uk

 

8th March
2016

 Commented: A rare politician indeed...

Jeremy Corbyn supports the legalisation of sex work and says that he does not want to automatically criminalise people. Labour PC extremists soon respond saying that they DO want to criminalise everybody, or at least men
jeremy corbyn Jeremy Corbyn told students in London he wanted a society where we don't automatically criminalise people , The Guardian reported. He said:

I am in favour of decriminalising the sex industry. I don't want people to be criminalised. I want to be [in] a society where we don't automatically criminalise people.

Let's do things a bit differently and in a bit more civilised way.

Of course it did not take long for the nasty wing of the Labour party to crticise their leader and re-iterate that they would like to see men jailed just for wanting to get laid.

Ex-Labour deputy leader Harriet Hatemen claimed prostitution was exploitation and abuse not an industry .

Labour MP Jess Phillips spewed on Twitter:

Man says we should decriminalize a known violence against women. Why did it have to be this man,

But the English Collective of Prostitutes, which campaigns for decriminalisation, voiced its support for Corbyn's comments. Supporters of decriminalisation include Amnesty International, which says it would mean sex workers are no longer forced to live outside the law .

Comment: Right Whinger

6th March 2016. Thanks to Alan

letter writing Corbyn's de facto number two, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, also has a laudable track record of fighting the corner of sex workers.

The nonentity Jess Phillips is a right-whinger with form for trying to undermine Corbyn. As for the bollox spouted by Harridan Hatemen, it mat be worth noting that the International Union of Sex Workers affiliated to the GMB, a TUC-affiliated union, which certainly seems to make them workers. Since HH's old man, Jack Dromey, is a former union official, I'd love to be a fly on the wall of the Dromey-Hatemen kitchen at breakfast!

I never cease to be amazed by the capacity of purported feminists like Hatemen and Phillips to spew crap about prostitution without ever talking to a few tarts.

Update: Corbyn is right -- prostitution must be decriminalised

8th March 2016.  See  article from spiked-online.com by Ella Whelan

Spiked logo We shouldn't punish sex work. We shouldn't celebrate it, either.

 

1st July
2016

 Update: Soliciting the decriminalisation of soliciting...

UK Parliament Committee recommends an immediate end to laws prohibiting soliciting and brothel keeping (when adult and consensual)...but will then consider whether men should be criminalised for buying sex
home affairs sex work june 2016 If the committee realises that current prohibitions endanger sex workers then it seems unlikely that they can recommend the criminalisation of men. Even if the crime of soliciting is repealed, then instead of soliciting, the sex workers will be guilty of inciting men to commit a crime.

The Committee introduces an interim report saying:

The Home Affairs Committee publishes an interim report on prostitution, saying that soliciting by sex workers, and sex workers sharing premises, should be decriminalised.

Home Office should change legislation

The Committee says the Home Office should immediately change existing legislation so that soliciting is no longer an offence and brothel-keeping laws allow sex workers to share premises, without losing the ability to prosecute those who use brothels to control or exploit sex workers. There must be zero tolerance of the organised criminal exploitation of sex workers.

The Home Office should also legislate to delete previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of sex workers, as these records make it much more difficult for people to move out of prostitution into other forms of work if they wish to.

Key facts

  • Around 11% of British men aged 16--74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals.

  • The number of sex workers in the UK is estimated to be around 72,800 with about 32,000 working in London.

  • Sex workers have an average of 25 clients per week paying an average of 78 per visit.

  • In 2014--15, there were 456 prosecutions of sex workers for loitering and soliciting.

  • An estimated 152 sex workers were murdered between 1990 and 2015. 49% of sex workers (in one survey) said that they were worried about their safety.

  • There were 1,139 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2014 and 248 in April to June 2015 (following implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015).

Prostitution inquiry

With regards to changing the laws on buying sex, this inquiry will continue. The Committee will be seeking further evidence on the impacts of the recently introduced sex buyer laws in Northern Ireland and France, and the model of regulation used in for example New Zealand, to make a better assessment for its final report. The laws on prostitution need ultimately to be reconsidered in the round, not least to give the police much more clarity on where their priorities should lie and how to tackle the exploitation and trafficking associated with the sex industry.

Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is an important and separate issue from prostitution involving consenting adults. It is too early to assess the impact of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 on levels of trafficking, but the Crown Prosecution Service identified 248 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the first three months of the Act's operation, compared to 1,139 in 2014.

Research on prostitution

Despite the obvious difficulties involved in getting data on an essentially covert industry, the Committee is "dismayed" at the poor quality of information available about the extent and nature of prostitution in England and Wales. The figures cited above must be considered in this context.

Without a proper evidence base, the Government cannot make informed decisions about the effectiveness of current legislation and policies, and cannot target funding and support interventions effectively. The Home Office should commission an in-depth research study on the current extent and nature of prostitution in England and Wales, within the next 12 months.

Chair's comments

Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

This is the first time that Parliament has considered the issue of prostitution in the round for decades. It is a polarising subject with strong views on all sides. This interim report will be followed by final recommendations, when we consider other options, including the different approaches adopted by other countries.

As a first step, there has been universal agreement that elements of the present law are unsatisfactory. Treating soliciting as a criminal offence is having an adverse effect, and it is wrong that sex workers, who are predominantly women, should be penalised and stigmatised in this way. The criminalisation of sex workers should therefore end.

The current law on brothel keeping also means sex-workers can be too afraid of prosecution to work together at the same premises, which can often compromise their safety. There must however be zero tolerance of the organised criminal exploitation of sex workers, and changes to legislation should not lessen the Home Office's ability to prosecute those engaged in exploitation.

The Committee will evaluate a number of the alternative models as this inquiry continues, including the sex-buyers law as operated in Sweden, the full decriminalised model used in Denmark, and the legalised model used in Germany and the Netherlands.

 

26th September
2016

  So who's up for a kicking?...

Labour discusses whether it should decriminalise prostitution or whether it should criminalise men
left foot frward logo Almost half of British people support the legalisation and regulation of prostitution, according to new polling conducted by Survation for Left Foot Forward.

Asked which of three legal models would be best for the UK, 48.2% supported legalising and regulating the industry, while just 11.3% support decriminalising the sellers of sex but criminalising the buyers (the so-called Nordic model). 22.8% favoured criminalising the industry altogether.

The Survation poll was conducted ahead of a Left Foot Forward fringe event at Labour Party Conference, which will discuss which legislative approach should be adopted by the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have both publicly supported decriminalisation, but many of their colleagues disagree.

Among Labour supporters, 48.4% support legalising prostitution, while 14.5% support the introduction of the Nordic model.

Overall, 44% of people supported a change to the law, while 38% think it should stay the same.

 

3rd December
2016

 Update: Unsafe working conditions to be maintained for a while yet...

The Government decides not implement the Home Affairs Committee recommendation to decriminalise soliciting and to allow sex workers to seek safety in numbers

Home Offie logoWarning: Fake News Alert: When did politicians ever care about a robust evidence base when issues of morality are at stake?

In July the Home Affairs Committee said soliciting for sex in England and Wales should no longer be a criminal offence. MPs also suggested sex workers should be able to share premises rather than risk working alone.

However such policies are way to liberal for the government and so they have commissioned another research report, no doubt hoping that it will reach a more proscriptive solution. After all there are still lots of men to jail for the heinous crime of simply trying to enjoy the pleasures of life.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that a robust evidence base was needed before policy changes were addressed. And so another Home Office research project has been commissioned and will report back next June. Rudd commented that any government response should include:

Ensuring those involved in prostitution and sex work are safeguarded, that traffickers and those who exploit vulnerable people can be effectively targeted, and ensuring that community concerns about prostitution and sex work can be addressed.

 

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