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‘At the tender age of fifteen I was coerced into the brutal world
of prostitution, I immediately lost my identity. I liken my day to
day life to being on the front lines of a battlefield. I spent the next
eleven years shut down and disassociated. I suppressed feelings of
shame and disgust constantly, by telling myself that this was a job
like any other.’
- Fiona Broadfoot
‘I could hear what was happening in other rooms and would think,
“IT’S HARD FOR ME TO at least what’s happening to me isn’t as bad. You have to survive.
If I saw someone else looking scared, I’d think at least that’s not
IDENTITY.” LIVE WITH THE FACT THAT me. It’s hard for me to live with the fact that I know some women
disappeared—I feel guilty.’
- Rebecca
‘Prostitutes are routinely violated in [many] ways and in each of
them the significance of their humanity is eradicated. It is the
voice which communicates with actions. It says “you are nothing”....
the truth is prostitution is the commercialisation of sexual abuse.’


- Rachel Moran, ‘Paid for’

“WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER ‘Sadly, this review has to be a negative because even as an
TO F**K THESE WH**ES?” experienced punter that knows how to extract services, I found
myself working far too hard with her. I left the place feeling abit
[sic] down & thinking ‘why do I even bother to f**k these wh**es?’
“SHE LOOKED AWAY AND ‘All you’ve heard about Romanians in the flesh,”. . .“A residential
CLOSED HER EYES, address which was little better than a squat...greasy skin, spotty,

A DEAD FISH THROUGHOUT.” ‘I grabbed her t*ts and pumped away while she looked away and
closed her eyes, completely silent like a dead fish throughout. No
doubt this wasn’t a great turn on and I just wanted to c*me and

“I SHOULD HAVE CLARIFIED get out as quick as possible.’

EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE BUT ‘Pictures are accurate, pretty girl, nice body. No kissing, No licking,
No Oral without and Sex only once in an hour session….I should
I WAS EXPECTING ALL THESE have clarified everything in advance but i was expecting all these
services as a given.’
- From UKPunting - a prostitution review website
A. Foreword by Fiona Bruce MP, Chair 6-7
B. Executive summary 8-9

1. Terms 10
2. Methodology & scope 11
3. Current law 12

4. How is the current law enforced? 14-15

5. Prevalence 16
6. Navigating the debate 18-19
7. Consent - the crux of the issue 20-21
8. Is prostitution safe? 22-24
9. Should those in prostitution face criminal penalty? 26-27
THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY 10. The connection between prostitution,
modern slavery and human trafficking? 28-30
11. Is support for those wanting to leave prostitution adequate? 32-33
12. Evidence from other jurisdictions 34-41
The Conservative Party Human Rights Commissioners to this report: 13. General arguments for and against
Commission was set up by the then Shadow
the two prevailing models 42-43

Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, in Fiona Bruce MP Chair
14. Conclusion 44-45

2005 to highlight international human rights Ben Rogers Vice Chair

concerns, to inform, advise and enhance the
David Burrowes 15. Recommendations in brief 46-47
party’s foreign policy. Freedom and human
Maria Caulfield MP
dignity should be at the heart of foreign policy
and the Commission aims to ensure that the Greg Hands MP Annex 1 UK Law related to prostitution 48-50
importance of fundamental human rights is Baroness Hodgson Annex 2 Terms of reference and call for evidence 51-53
kept high on the political agenda. The Chair Jeremy Lefroy MP Annex 3 Respondents to the call for evidence 54
of the Conservative Party Human Rights Luke de Pulford
Commission is appointed by the Leader of Andrew Selous MP
the Conservative Party, and is currently Fiona
Gary Streeter MP
Bruce MP. Since its creation the Commission’s
Charles Tannock
Chairs have included Sir Gary Streeter MP, the
Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, Sir Tony Baldry Michael Tomlinson MP
MP, and Robert Buckland MP. Derek Thomas MP

The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission is independent of both Her Majesty’s
Government and the Conservative Party. The views and opinions expressed in this report do not
reflect the views and opinions of either the Government or the Conservative Party.

I was moved to commission this report after hearing first-hand
the harrowing testimonies of survivors of sexual exploitation and
abuse. These were women who believed that prostitution was their
only way to survive; women whose exploitation was facilitated by
our current legal and enforcement framework. I would like to pay
tribute to those women who came forward and without whom we
could not have produced this report.

They deserve both our compassion and respect and sexual consent purchased for the purposes of
for the experiences they have endured and their prostitution. Together with the available evidence,
determination to bring about change so that which demonstrates the interconnectedness of
others do not have to endure the same. Their prostitution, modern slavery and other serious
testimonies illustrate that prostitution and the crimes, and health issues, there is a strong case
exploitation of others through prostitution is for legal reform.

clearly a violation of a person’s inherent human
dignity which the preamble to the Universal This report marks a departure in another
Declaration of Human Rights states so clearly respect in that it is the first by the Conservative
“is the foundation of freedom, justice and Party Human Rights Commission to focus
peace in the world.” predominantly, although not exclusively, on an
issue of human rights in the UK. Those exploited
Having learned something of the debate here are often from countries other than the

surrounding prostitution, with all its attendant UK, and so while this report has a domestic focus

polarisation, I was keen to conduct an Inquiry and intent - to promote change in the UK -
HUMA N RIGHTS COMMISSION which would give a fair hearing to all sides. The it is necessarily international in scope. Sadly,
Inquiry went to great lengths to gather evidence this is a global trade which precipitates gross
from all the principal campaigners, and gave human rights violations both in the UK and
equal representation to them wherever possible. around the world.
We also systematically reviewed existing evidence
from the UK and other jurisdictions in order ‘I hope this report serves to highlight areas for
to establish what, if any, relevant lessons could further investigation, and that it is helpful to
be drawn. colleagues and others in shaping their views -
informed by evidence framed in the context of
This report differs markedly from recent attempts the wider ethical discussion around prostitution.
to assess prostitution in one central way: it insists
that the ethical questions around prostitution Most of all I hope it prompts our own
are of critical relevance to determining public Government to review and change the
policy and cannot be resolved with reference current legislation in this country on this
to evidence alone. The Inquiry therefore sought deeply concerning issue. The time for this is
to examine some of the underlying questions long overdue. As Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying
of principle and, in doing so, discovered an “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’’
uncomfortable tension between the common
notion of sexual consent as a freely given gift,

6 7
Through this Inquiry, the Conservative Party Human willingness and ability of people in prostitution to
Rights Commission has sought to allow space for a make police reports under these systems.
fair hearing for each side of the debate in the hope
of establishing areas of consensus through which In the context of the UK, it is beyond question that
common goals might be set. The Commission there are inconsistencies in the letter, spirit and
was pleased to find that campaigners who seemed enforcement of the law, and that this has led to
irreconcilably opposed shared much in common. widespread confusion. Regarding exiting services,
There was broad agreement that criminal sanctions the Commission heard that support for those
penalising those in prostitution should be relaxed, wishing to exit prostitution is seriously inadequate,
and that prostitution-related offences should be and that exiting services themselves are in need of
expunged from criminal records. There was also development.
more agreement around matters of principle that
was expected. For example: representatives of all Overall evidence to the Commission showed that
sides of the debate said they wished to abolish the system of prostitution is intimately connected

prostitution, and agreed that external pressures could to sexual exploitation, sexual violence, violent crime
impinge upon the free choice to enter into it and and other crime, and that people are harmed
remain within it. Such pressures may range from through it. Taking a public health approach, it is
having been prostituted at such an early age ending clear from evidence received that the way to reduce
education, or facing financial hardship and resulting prostitution-related harm is to reduce the number

in a sense of being trapped, to quite literally being of people impacted by prostitution. The evidence,
trafficked and coerced. therefore, clearly supports pursuing a public policy
approach aimed at reducing the number of people
Similarly, all parties seemed to agree that stigma in prostitution to the greatest possible extent.

experienced by those in prostitution causes profound
and far-reaching harm to those caught up in it, as well The Commission supports the principle of
as to those who have exited. Unlike the Government’s evidence-based policy-making, but legislative
Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict strategy, there approaches surrounding prostitution ought
has been no concerted effort to shift the burden not to be determined by weighing the available
of stigma from those in prostitution to those who evidence in isolation. The ethical questions must
purchase or facilitate. be addressed and, in a representative democracy,

Parliament must take a view. To this point, the

Every aspect of the debate surrounding

There is a growing body of credible evidence Commission reaffirms the high value society places
prostitution is controversial and disputed, demonstrating that prostitution has a detrimental upon sexual consent, and notes that consent is
effect on mental and physical health. Evidence from an increasingly prevalent tool in determining the
from the integrity of the available evidence other jurisdictions following a ‘decriminalising’ model difference between wanted or unwanted actions.
to the terminology. reveals an increase in the number of police reports, The Commission finds it difficult to reconcile the
but worrying trends in the normalisation of extreme common socio-legal understanding of sex as an
of sexual demands made upon those in prostitution. act of mutual intimacy requiring free consent with
The available evidence does not support the theory the system of prostitution which provides for its
that decriminalisation improves the safety of those purchase. The entire system of prostitution is built
in prostitution overall, or reduces crime surrounding upon the exchange of money for sexual consent.
prostitution in general. Indeed, normalisation of Without the money, there would be no consent.
the prostitution market is a pull factor for would The Commission believes that it is therefore
be exploiters. By contrast evidence from countries accurate to characterise our system as allowing
employing the Nordic or ‘end demand’ legislative for the purchase of sexual consent, and believes
model showed a trend towards smaller prostitution that this undermines the principle of sexual consent
markets and an increase in attitudinal antipathy to itself. Urgent legislative steps should be taken to
prostitution among the younger generation. There uphold the high value society places upon consent,
are conflicting reports, however, regarding the and this question warrants urgent
parliamentary attention.

Conclusion and recommendations can be found in sections 14 and 15.

8 9
The Commission has tried wherever possible to employ neutral Above all, the inquiry set out to scrutinise the law surrounding

language in this report. This is not always possible, as advocacy prostitution in the UK, its effect, and how it might be improved.
groups on all sides of the debate have reservations about much In order to do this effectively, it was deemed necessary to include
of the language commonly used to describe prostitution or the evidence from other jurisdictions where different legal models
people in it. have been implemented, to see what lessons might be learned
for the UK.
The Commission has striven to respect the preferences of those who generously gave evidence.
Where particular words or phrases are controversial, the Commission has tended to use the
wording of statute.


EXITING SERVICES The Commission reviewed existing evidence, large enough sample sizes have been cited.
(the exchange of sexual services for money)
(assistance offered in support of individuals issued a call for evidence (Annex 2), held three A limitation of our approach to qualitative

has been preferred over “sex work” or the “sex

who wish to leave prostitution). oral evidence sessions and hosted a recorded evidence is that, for obvious reasons,
debate, moderated by Baroness Hodgson, anonymous testimonies could not be verified.
COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION featuring principal advocates from either side We have taken this evidence at face value
(practice by which a person or institution of the debate: Julie Bindel and Dr Belinda throughout the report.
(those providing sexual services) is used
seeks to achieve gain through the abuse of Brooks-Gordon. One of the oral sessions
over “prostituted people”, “sex workers” or
a person’s sexuality, for example: through heard from four people with lived experience A challenge shared by all researchers into
human trafficking) of prostitution: two for the Nordic or ‘end this issue is the inability to know whether or
demand’ model, and two for decriminalisation. not evidence collected is representative of
SEXUAL SERVICES In reviewing the quantitative literature prostitution in general. While all efforts were
(acts performed in prostitution) is used as the Commission paid careful attention to made to ensure that parties solicited for
(legislative model pioneered in Sweden which
opposed to “sexual access”, “work”, or “sex robustness of methodology. It would be fair evidence were representative, prostitution
seeks to: repeal criminal sanctions against
acts”, following the legal framing in the Sexual to say that much of the evidence we reviewed remains largely hidden, and so we cannot
people in prostitution, curtail demand for
Offences Act 2003. The Commission is aware could not be described as robust. Where presume that the evidence received captures
sexual services, and improve provision of
that this terminology is unacceptable to possible only those studies which have been all aspects of prostitution in the UK.
exiting services)
many, but believes that in this case, where independently reviewed and which carried
there is no commonly accepted term, the
legal framing is the most neutral option. DECRIMINALISATION
(legislative model which seeks the removal
of all prostitution related offences from the
criminal law)

10 11

UK law Laws in other countries Decriminalisation Prohibition

Prostitution law and policy are devolved Professor Roger Matthews describes involves the removal of all or some of the laws sometimes referred to as ‘abolitionism’,
matters and criminal laws relating to four general policies for the regulation of relating to prostitution. Full decriminalisation involves the criminalisation of the exchange
prostitution vary between the different prostitution that have developed in different removes all the laws relating to prostitution of sexual services for payment. In its more
jurisdictions of the UK. The primary difference countries and during different periods of time: including offences related to third-party traditional form, as found in most states
is that since 2015 it has been an offence to regulationism, decriminalisation, legalisation profiteering. New Zealand is generally of the USA, both the person providing
pay for sexual services in Northern Ireland. and prohibition, whilst noting that in practice characterised as having a fully decriminalised sexual services and the purchaser commit
Nowhere in the UK is it an offence to provide the legal regimes of different countries may system however the legislation introduced an offence. Sweden established a ‘neo-
sexual services in return for payment. Nor is have a mix of different policies operating at systems of licensing for brothels and other abolitionist’ approach in 1999 in which the
it an offence in Scotland, England or Wales different levels.1 Moreover in many countries regulations and “in effect introduced a hybrid provision of sexual services was decriminalised

to pay for sexual services in circumstances there are variations in the policies applied in system of legalisation and decriminalisation.” while the purchase was criminalised. Other

not involving force or exploitation. In all different regions, states or provinces. countries that have adopted this approach
jurisdictions there are a number of other Legalisation include Norway, Iceland, Canada, France,
offences related to activities connected to Regulationism involves the establishment of state approved Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland
prostitution such as brothel-keeping, soliciting seeks to reduce the negative associations of (licensed and regulated) brothels and/ and Israel.
in a public place and human trafficking. prostitution through regulation. Laws often or designated ‘tolerance zones’ where
Details of these offences are set out in Annex 1. focus more on the public nuisance aspects street prostitution is allowed to operate
of prostitution and policing third-party freely. Examples include Germany and The
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) policy is profiteering rather than the act of selling or Netherlands in Europe, and the states of
primarily focussed on the prosecution of purchasing sex itself. For example, the laws in Victoria in Australia and Nevada in the USA.
individuals who force others into prostitution, England and Wales primarily fit this model.
and who exploit and harm others with
emphasis on offences of causing, inciting or
controlling prostitution for gain and human
trafficking. For summary offences such as
soliciting and kerb-crawling the Police have
discretion as to whether or not to arrest or
refer cases to the CPS.

Matthews, R. Prostitution, Politics and Policy (Routledge-Cavendish 2008).

12 13
street prostitution and kerb-crawlers in (fixed penalty notices) of £100, issued by
Ipswich; helping women make life changes to council officers or police officers. Alternatively,
move on from prostitution; making effective it can be enforced through the courts which
inroads into preventing others, especially may result in a fine of up to £1000.
the young, from becoming involved in

prostitution; and reducing demand and costs Brothel-keeping

on criminal justice services. 9 Currently brothel-keeping is illegal across the
UK. The Inquiry received evidence that this
Police authorities inconsistent In August 2018 the London Borough of law can have a negative impact on individual
In 2016, Freedom of Information requests were improvement in the relationship between Redbridge instituted a borough-wide Public women involved in prostitution who would
sent to every police authority in the country. those in prostitution and the police, an increase Space Protection Order (PSPO) which like to share premises as they perceive this
Responses revealed that some authorities will in women reporting concerns about potentially prohibits attempting to buy sexual services to be safer, but if they do so they risk being
only arrest people who solicit for the purposes dangerous “clients” to local support services from another person in public places in the prosecuted for brothel-keeping offences.11
of selling, and some authorities will only arrest and the police; and increased engagement by borough and will be in force for three years.10
people who solicit for the purposes of buying. women in prostitution with outreach services The PSPO is enforced by on the spot fines
South Wales, South Yorkshire, and Thames and a higher take up of social and health care
Valley, for example, all recorded zero for the interventions. 5 However, the evaluation notes

number of people arrested for soliciting for that there does not seem to have been an
the purposes of purchase. Whereas Cleveland improvement in women’s perception of safety.6
recorded double the number of arrests for Press reports also highlight increased reports
soliciting for purchase than for common of rape and sexual assault in the area including AS I SAID TO ALL THOSE I WORK WITH,

prostitute soliciting.2 the tragic murder of a young woman in 2015.7


Local residents have highlighted problems

From this evidence we can surmise that some caused by prostitution activity spreading
police authorities will routinely neglect to arrest beyond the designated zone and outside the WAS DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH.”
those who have been seeking to sell. Others will specified hours, which were also noted in the
routinely neglect to arrest those who have been evaluation report. 8
soliciting for the purpose of buying. Anecdotal Alan Caton, Former Police Officer
evidence provided to the Commission by In contrast, the city of Ipswich implemented
former police officer Alan Caton would back a new prostitution strategy in 2007 following
this up: “As I said to all those I work with, the the murder of five women engaged in
law was a bit of a mismatch and was difficult street prostitution in December 2006. The
to work with.” 3 strategy focused on tackling the demand
for prostitution through a zero-tolerance
Alternate policing approaches to policing kerb-crawling offences and Freedom of Information Data-Set Soliciting in Prostitution, available on request.

Alan Caton OBE, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018.
In 2014, the city of Leeds established a supporting women to exit prostitution 4
Sanders, T. & Sehmbi, V. Evaluation of the Leeds Street Sex Working Managed Area (2015) p.1.
‘managed area’ for prostitution in the Holbeck through multi-agency support and
Sanders, T. & Sehmbi V, p.1
Sanders, T. & Sehmbi V. p.3
area of the city, in which during set hours enforcement of the law against people 7
Daily Mail, 16th December 2017, Rape and sex assaults soar in Britain’s first official red light district causing
police to double patrols and businesses to move away; The Telegraph, 23th July 2018, Violence, drugs and
(originally 7pm-7am) there will be no cautions in street prostitution as a last resort only sexual diseases: How managed zones for prostitution are failing women worldwide; The Guardian, 4th July
or arrest for loitering, soliciting or kerb- alongside community engagement and 2016, Man Found Guilty of Murdering Sex Worker in Leeds
crawling.4 The evaluation of the pilot scheme prevention activities. Evaluation of the project 9
Boswell, G., Poland, F., Seebohm, L., Killett, A., Varley, A., Houghton, J., Fordham, R., Jarrett, J. Findings from the university of East Anglia’s evaluation of the
claimed it to be a success emphasising an found it had been successful in eliminating Ipswich/Suffolk Multi-agency strategy on prostitution following the five murders in 2006 (US-China Law Review 10, 2013).
London Borough of Redbridge, Public Space Protection Orders, 2018
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM; Written Evidence 7 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 6

14 15

The Home Office does not collect statistics on the scale of

prostitution. It has commissioned research into the scale of
prostitution in England and Wales, but this is ongoing.12 In 2016
the Scottish Government commissioned research to explore the
available knowledge and evidence but did not conduct a new
analysis or estimate of the scale of prostitution.13

The data currently available is incomplete Within these limits there are some estimates
and inadequate. Many of the existing studies available for the scale of prostitution in the UK.
focus on specific sections of those engaged It is currently estimated that there are 72,800
in prostitution, and have a small sample people engaged in prostitution in the UK, of

size. Moreover, those who are engaged in which 32,000 are in London.16 The Office of

using services for additional needs are easier National Statistics estimated that there were
to contact and can be overrepresented in approximately 58,000 women engaged in
research focussed on such services versus prostitution in 2014, and that each of them
those who engage in prostitution in private had an average of 25 clients a week. 17
homes, with limited contact with other
services.14 In contrast, research primarily This Inquiry welcomes the Government’s
conducted through online surveys or contact research commission, and believes that an
with those who use online advertising annual estimate of the number of people
is largely inaccessible to (and thus not in prostitution ought to be produced,
representative of) those who have do not together with an analysis of the social and
have access to the internet, those whose lives economic cost. It is vital that there are neutral
may be less stable, are socially isolated or comprehensive nationwide statistics available.
experiencing exploitation. 15

HM Government, The Government Response to the Third Report from the Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-17 HC 26: Prostitution (2016)
Scottish Government Exploring available knowledge and evidence on prostitution in Scotland via practitioner-based interviews (2016)
Home Affairs Committee: Prostitution, Third Report of Session 2016-17 (2016)
University of Bristol, Prostitution and Sex Work Research 2018-2019 Online Survey update 6 July 2018 and FAQs (2018)
Dr. Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Written Evidence Submitted to Home Affairs Committee (2016)
Office of National Statistics, Changes to National Accounts: Inclusion of Illegal Drugs and Prostitution in the UK National Accounts (2014)

16 17
Written Evidence 23 - PION

“Prostitution is exploitation in a wider context individual’s agency of those individuals who

of gender inequality and power differentials make the free choice of selling sex or sexual
between men and women.” 19 performances without being oppressed or

forced by a third party.” 21

But all sides accept that prostitution can be
Rachel Moran, a prostitution survivor and
a context for exploitation
advocate for the Nordic or ‘end demand’
In spite of this, there is broad acceptance from
The Commission received evidence from a wide range of sources all sides that prostitution can and does lead
model, argued in her oral evidence that even
where people in prostitution were not under
many of which were from those with lived experience of prostitution, to sexual exploitation. The real disagreement
coercion from a third party, “...the cash is the
here is over prevalence of exploitation, with
and many from campaigning groups. Submissions were extremely views ranging from those who argue that
coercion….The cash is a tool and its function
is to buy a way of consent. Your consent is
polarised: each without exception argued for either the Nordic or every act of prostitution is exploitative to
rendered irrelevant.” 22 In her book ‘Paid for’,
those who argue that exploitation within
‘end demand’ or, ‘decriminalisation’ models of legislation with most prostitution is no more or less common than
Moran also mounts the argument that it is not
possible to consent to something that you do
citing research to support their conclusion. any other workplace. 20
not understand, and that for those who are
manipulated into prostitution at a young age,
Being aware of this impasse, the Commission
this is especially relevant.
chose to ask when respondents thought

takes the view that it is impossible to

Lobbies divided by ideology as prostitution became exploitative, believing
understand the issue, navigate the evidence, On the face of it, these positions are

much as research this question more likely to yield illuminating

or, indeed, form a considered view about incommensurable, but, again, there is
It is clear from submissions to the Commission answers. Responses starkly illustrated the
the subject without examining consent and greater consensus than first appears. Both
that the academic literature alone is ideological dividing lines.
choice. These tasks are, therefore, within the sides agree that coercion and choice are key
insufficient to explain the polarisation in this scope of this report. factors in establishing whether a practice is
debate. The available research presents a Those advocating decriminalisation or
exploitative.23 The real disagreement is over
confusing and contradictory picture, often legalisation argued that prostitution was
what constitutes consent or free choice, and
quoted selectively by organisations on No agreement about the inherent exploitative where coercion was present.
when it is present in the prostitution context,
both sides. For this reason and others, the nature of prostitution For many on that side of the debate, those
if at all. Both accept that it is not possible
Commission found that positions taken Views about the inherent nature of entering prostitution through free choice
to consent to one’s own exploitation, and
in submissions owed less to the research prostitution vary. Advocates of the cannot be said to be suffering exploitation:
both accept that coerced choice cannot be
consensus and more to a priori views on two decriminalisation model tend to deny that
understood as free choice.
things: the nature of consent and the limits of there is any meaningful difference between “If someone is forced into sex work with
choice and autonomy. The Inquiry found that prostitution and any other work: “ work coercive means, that is exploitation…
an organisation’s view on these subjects would should be looked at in the same way as a However one must acknowledge the
more reliably predict their favoured policy normal job.” 18
framework. The Commission is not alone in
reaching this conclusion, but, in spite of this, On the other hand, proponents of the Nordic
or ‘end demand’ model tend to affirm that Written Evidence 5 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 4
issues of principle tend not to feature heavily 19
Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project
in reports about prostitution. The Commission prostitution is by its nature exploitative: 20
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International; Written Evidence 3 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 2
Written Evidence 23 - PION

Rachel Moran, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
Dr. Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Opening Statement - Parliamentary Debate “Should men have the right to buy sex?” 18th April 2018

18 19
a coercive effect. The classic, and unfortunately sex and ordinary forms of labour. Moreover,

07. common, example would be an Indian girl who

elects to enter prostitution to help her unwell
the inherent nature of the act of prostitution
clearly differs from the wider labour market.

mother feed their children. Another example For example, prostitution involves wholly
would be a woman who enters prostitution incomparable internal and external exposure
to earn money to pay for drugs. She cannot of the body with attendant risks to mental and

reasonably be said to have made a free choice, physical health. For these reasons - along with
yet no one person coerced her. methodological reservations - the Commission
finds unpersuasive recent attempts to

The argument from some on the Nordic or demonstrate equivalence between prostitution
‘end demand’ side is that the money induces and work. 32
consent which would otherwise not be given.
The retort from the decriminalisation lobby is
Should society permit the purchase
that, if this is true for prostitution, it is true for all
forms of work. of sexual consent?

Given the great importance placed upon

sexual consent by society, it seems right that
Sexual consent is not the same as other a high threshold applies when determining
Consent is defined in the Sexual Offences Act freely to consent to prostitution without
forms of consent whether the choice to consent to prostitution
2003 and associated case law, which make feeling exploited.
The Commission agrees that a certain level is truly freely made. Yet evidence given to
clear that consent to vaginal, anal, or oral
of indirect coercion is present in most forms the Commission was clear that this threshold
penetration is only present where someone These criteria present a high threshold for
of work, but cannot agree that there is an is rarely reached;33 that hardly any of those
agrees to that penetration and has freedom establishing free choice. On the available
equivalence between consent ‘purchased’ in prostitution would claim their entry to
and capacity to make that choice. In addition evidence, the Commission takes the view
in the labour market and sexual consent prostitution was without economic or social
to these conditions, those investigating must that the overwhelming majority of those in
‘purchased’ for the purposes of prostitution. As compulsion. However, it was also clear from
establish what steps, if any, the suspect took to prostitution would not meet this threshold,
Professor Kevin Bales remarked in his evidence: evidence received that there are some people
obtain consent. 24 as many describe their choice to enter
“ say that in a broad way, that there is no who believe themselves to have made that
prostitution as dictated by their circumstances.
difference between those two exchanges, free choice and do not consider themselves
Freedom to choose is critical. All choices are One respondent stated “I took this role in
seems very strange to me.” 31 coerced in any way.
informed and limited by circumstances, and so order to pay off a large debt” stating that she
the notion of an entirely free choice is illusory. faced bankruptcy otherwise, and that in her
Broadly speaking society understands sexual These considerations bring focus to the
One respondent, stated: “There are many experience many other women were in the

intercourse as an expression of mutual discussion, but only as the practice affects

reasons for entering this work - for some it is same situation. 27

intimacy. It it not ordinarily understood as those in prostitution, rather than the purchaser.
an active and positive choice, for others it is the
a human activity undertaken for gain, or as Following the same logic and applying the
convenient choice, for some it is a choice made One frontline support worker who gave
a part of an economic transaction. Perhaps same questions to the demand side frames
as a means of survival - these are all valid evidence to the Commission agreed: “...
for these reasons, it is clear that the law the enquiry rather differently: even if a person
choices which an adult is free to make.” 25 throughout my career I am yet to meet a
treats sexual consent differently, and hands has freely chosen to consent to prostitution,
woman who made a conscious choice to enter
down severe criminal penalties for those ought society to permit the purchase of
In the context of prostitution, many factors can prostitution without an external force such as
who fail to obtain it. Work within the labour sexual consent? This is the ethical question
inhibit one’s capacity to make a free choice. As poverty or relationships being at play”. 28
market, however, is ordinarily understood separating the two principal lobbies and the
PION defined it: “...someone will feel like they
as remunerated activity for a purpose. most useful public policy lens through which
are exploited because they do not have the Niki Adams of the English Collective of
Society clearly has a completely different the Commission has sought to analyse and
ability to choose other income sources, Prostitutes appeared to endorse this analysis:
understanding of the ordinary purposes of categorise evidence in this report. We return to
as a result of either a lack of a comprehensive “Of course! I’m not a ‘happy hooker’. We’re not
it in the conclusion.
welfare system or physical barriers such as not promoting prostitution as a good form of work.
knowing the language, lack of education or We’re saying it’s the best choice out of a list of
the consumption of drugs and bad choices…” 29
illegal substances... 26 24
Useful summary of the legal position provided in these NHS guidelines
Written Submission 28 - Stephanie
If someone is merely lacking freedom, can 26
Written Evidence 23 - PION
For PION, the availability of other income 27
Elizabeth, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
they still be coerced? 28
Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby
sources, comprehensive welfare, language Niki Adams, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
Coercion is commonly understood as the use

skills, and drug use all have an impact 30

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus (Cambridge University Press)
of force to persuade someone to do something 31
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
on a person’s freedom and, therefore, a
that they are unwilling to do. 30 But as discussed See, for example, the recent report by the English Collective of Prostitutes, What is a nice girl like you doing in a job like this? which interviewed 17 women

consequential impact on their ability in different occupations and on this basis sought to conclude that prostitution and work were equivalents.
in the previous section, circumstances can have 33
Julie Bindel, Opening Statement - Parliamentary Debate “Should men have the right to buy sex?” 18th April 2018

20 21
‘Katie’ quoted by Women’s Support Network

However, others contested this saying that provided on what those screening processes
Protecting the safety of citizens is a fundamental responsibility there is no clear evidence of a reduction in involve and how they prevent individuals
of any government. In the context of prostitution, governments violence following decriminalisation and that providing false information, whatever the
there is evidence of violence continuing to legal situation.
must consider whether the legal framework provides adequate
be a common occurrence even in licensed
protection or in fact allows or facilitates harm, especially with regard brothels.39 It was suggested that those who Although, evidence was presented suggesting
an increase in violence or risk of violence in
to a person’s fundamental human rights and freedoms such as the purchase sex have become emboldened, that
France and the Republic of Ireland following
more of them consider a degree of violence
right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture, or to inhuman to be acceptable, that unprotected sex has a recent change to the law criminalising the
purchase of sexual services,44 this was disputed
or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to protection become commonplace (despite legislation
requiring use of condoms) and, overall, women by other respondents and other evidence
from slavery, servitude and forced labour. providing sexual services have become showed reduced levels of violence in other
more vulnerable.40 countries with the same legal approach.45

Polarised view of legal approaches prostitution.35 It was also apparent that in this

Some evidence suggested that criminalising Respondents also pointed to evidence

The evidence received by the Commission context with such a wide range of potential
indicating a greater willingness for people

demonstrated polarised views of which legal risk factors, making prostitution completely prostitution pushes it to the margins of society
and, therefore, makes people involved in involved in prostitution in Ireland to report
approaches are the most likely to improve ‘safe’ is not possible. As one woman involved
prostitution distrustful of police and other violence to the police since the law changed
safety for individuals involved in prostitution. in prostitution put it “I don’t know if you can
authorities and, thus, less likely to seek help to criminalise those who purchase and
Whilst the chosen solutions promoted by make it safer for the women. I don’t think
or access health services.41 However, other decriminalise those who provide sexual
respondents varied, it was clear across all the you really can.” 36
evidence was received which reported services.46 We note that this benefit was
evidence that there were significant risks of
improved access to support services and attributed by other witnesses to the fully
violence and harm involved in prostitution. Evidence was presented suggesting that
increased funding for those services, as well as decriminalised model, (e.g. Niki Adams
Research for the Scottish Government in 2016 legal approaches which decriminalise all
increased confidence to seek help in countries mentioned above) and is likely, therefore, to
found that “most respondents who provide aspects of prostitution make prostitution
where providing sexual services has been be connected more to the decriminalisation
services and support to those involved in safer, arguing that this improves conditions
decriminalised but third-party involvement (eg of those providing sexual services than to the
prostitution emphasised a range of risks and and offers safe venues for prostitution.37 Some
brothel-keeping, pimping) and purchasing sex criminalisation or decriminalisation of those
adverse impacts associated with prostitution respondents suggested that in countries with
are illegal.42 who pay for them.
in the short and longer term in relation decriminalised prostitution there has been a
to general and mental health, safety and reduction in violent incidents and increased
wellbeing and sexual health.” 34 We recognise confidence for individuals in prostitution to Respondents told the Inquiry that criminalising Third-party involvement
that prostitution is not the only context in report crimes to the police and access the act of purchasing sexual services makes Some respondents suggested that
which people can experience sexual violence or support services.38 it more difficult for individuals to ‘screen’ criminalising prostitution causes individuals to
physical and mental harm, however research potential clients with those clients more rely on third parties and that those third parties
shows particularly high levels of these harms in nervous and less willing to reveal personal are more likely to be of a criminal or ‘black
information.43 However, no information was market’ nature implying this creates greater

22 23
risk.47 However, the Commission also heard by many women in prostitution in jurisdictions
evidence that an illegal prostitution market where prostitution is legal suggesting that
continues to exist alongside the legal sector in these wider harms of prostitution are not
countries with fully decriminalised or legalised prevented by legalisation or decriminalisation,
prostitution, so the danger presented by an and that these laws have failed to improve
illegal sector remains following legalisation conditions for those who provide
or decriminalisation.48 sexual services. 51

We heard that legalisation/decriminalisation Professor Kevin Bales CMG suggested that,

“creates a regularity in the idea that one can given the competing evidence regarding
purchase sexual entertainment but that whether any particular form of law can
also leads to the potential for the demand make prostitution safer, the Commission
for commercial sexual exploitation which should rather focus on public health,52 a
transcends that which is legally permitted. recommendation with which the Commission

In other words, around those areas in New agrees. At its most fundamental level a
South Wales, this is demonstrated and in public health approach aims to provide the
those areas around Amsterdam that there is maximum benefit for the largest number of
an illegal layer where you can have sex with people with a resulting focus on prevention.
under-age people or violent sex and so forth.”49 The most effective way of reducing the harm
Similarly evidence was presented indicating of prostitution is prevention. Reducing the
the involvement of organised crime, human size of the sex industry reduces the extent to
trafficking, drug taking and psychological which prostitution is a context in which sexual
trauma among individuals involved in and physical violence takes place. Reducing
prostitution in areas of full decriminalisation the number people involved in prostitution,
or legalisation.50 reduces the number of people at risk of the
harms common to the context of prostitution.
Health issues for those in prostitution In this context the evidence received about the
Aside from evidence regarding violence levels of prostitution, involvement of criminality
specifically, some respondents pointed to and human trafficking under different legal
regimes takes on greater significance.

evidence of significant gynaecological and

psychological health problems experienced

Scottish Government, Exploring available knowledge and evidence on prostitution in Scotland via practitioner-based interviews (2017)
Tyler, M. “Theorizing harm through the Sex of Prostitution” in Coy. M.(ed) Prostitution, Harm and Gender Inequality: Theory, Research and Policy (Ashgate,
2012); Farley, M. Cotton, A. Lynne, J. Zumbeck, S. Spiwak, F. Reyes, M. Alvarez, D. and Sezgin, U. “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on
Violence and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in Farley, M. (ed) Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress (Haworth Press, 2003); National Police Chiefs
Council, National Policing Sex Work Guidance (2015)
‘Katie’ quoted in Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project
Written Evidence 31 - TAMPEP; Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
Niki Adams, Oral Evidence, 28th April 2018
Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project; Written Evidence 22 - NMIN; Written Evidence 10 - CARE
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International; Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama
Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs; Written Evidence 26 - SWARM; Written Evidence 31 - TAMPEP;
Written Evidence 18 - NAWO; Written Evidence 29 - Swedish Women’s Lobby; Written Evidence 30 - Talita
Written Evidence 15 - Fuckförbundet Sverige; Written Evidence 26 - SWARM; Written Evidence 27 - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM; Written Evidence 27 - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
Written Evidence 22 - NMIN; Written Evidence 29 - Swedish Women’s Lobby
Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama
Written Evidence 27 - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland; Written Evidence 31 - TAMPEP
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International; Written Evidence 21 - nia; Written Evidence 22 - NMIN
Written Evidence 10 - CARE; Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International; Written Evidence 21 - nia;
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018

24 25
have to disclose that. Fortunately, I’ve recently as the recent experience in the Holbeck area
been successful in court and am currently of Leeds demonstrates. Steps should be taken
having my case looked and, hopefully, having to mitigate any potential negative impact on

my so-called convictions removed. I don’t local communities of repealing the law on
believe that we’re putting the criminal focus soliciting, for example consistent enforcement
on the right people. The vast majority of profit of the parallel offence of soliciting for the

from this are the buyers and the sellers, not the purchase of sex.
women who are bought and sold.” 60
We also recommend the UK Government

FACE CRIMINAL Decriminalisation of prostitution - should introduce secondary legislation

as soon as possible to amend filtering
related offences
procedures to prevent disclosure of historic

Opinions vary on which specific offences should
soliciting convictions, including under
be decriminalised, with some recommending
enhanced disclosure processes, where a
removal of all prostitution-related offences
person has never been convicted of any other

(including those involving third-party

offence. The Scottish Government should
involvement), and others recommending
ensure that the same is true in Scotland
only decriminalisation of those who sell sexual
following any changes made in the proposed
services. It has also been suggested that
Impact of criminal law on people in Having a criminal record for prostitution- Disclosure Bill. 62
circumstances where individuals operating
prostitution related offences was described by many as a
from the same premises for reasons of security
One area of noteworthy agreement among all significant barrier in leaving prostitution and Regarding other prostitution-related offences
should be excluded from the offence of brothel-
the evidence was in relation to the impact of seeking employment.57 Women often face we recommend that consideration be given
keeping and that convictions obtained in such
the criminal law on people in prostitution. judgement and stigma when their criminal to whether current guidance is sufficient to
circumstances should not be disclosed under
record is disclosed and are “less likely to be ensure laws such as brothel-keeping are not
the DBS scheme. 61
The Inquiry heard that “The current able to enter the mainstream workforce with unnecessarily penalising those who sell sexual
criminalisation of prostitution not only a criminal record.” 58 services. It is our view that the primary aim for
It is clear that laws criminalising those who
jeopardises the safety of the women on a day such offences should be prosecuting those
sell sexual services act as a significant barrier
to day basis but also serves as a barrier to exit Impact of mandatory disclosure who profit from or control the prostitution
to exit and may even lead to people becoming
when they are ready to make this decision.” 53 The mandatory disclosure of spent convictions of others which the law should recognise as
further entrenched in prostitution. Therefore,
for soliciting under the Disclosure and Barring a wholly unacceptable form of abuse, whilst
it is our view that the laws on soliciting for

Current laws on soliciting cause many women Service (DBS) enhanced disclosure process acknowledging there may be a need to
the sale of sexual services be repealed in
to be caught up in the criminal justice system when applying for jobs or volunteer activity prosecute in cases of severe disturbance to a

England and Wales and Scotland. However

and incur criminal records and fines which of certain kinds, primarily those involving local community.
we recommend that prior to repealing this
serve, in many cases, to entrench them contact with vulnerable people seems to
offence the UK Government and Scottish
further in prostitution.54 Since “criminalisation be particularly harsh. We note the recent “We needed to work differently because
Government should consult with the police
most affects those whose lives are already judgment of the High Court in the case previous strategies had proved ineffective
and other key stakeholders to identify any
precarious” 55 it no doubt increases their of R (on an application of (1) QSA (2) Fiona and maintaining the status quo was never
unforeseen negative consequences and
vulnerability and makes it harder for to people Broadfoot (3) ARB v 91) SSHD and (2) SSJ going to be an option and it was quite clear
develop strategies to overcome them.
to exit prostitution. [2018] EWHC 407 (Admin) that requiring such to me that punitive measures for girls did not
disclosures is disproportionate and amounts work mostly.” 63
The impact of prostitution on local
Impact of criminalisation on exiting services to an interference in a person’s right to respect
communities cannot be dismissed lightly
The availability of services and assistance to for private life. 59
help people to leave prostitution may also be
negatively impacted by laws that criminalise Fiona Broadfoot, one of the women who 53
Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby

those selling sex: “By continuing to penalise brought the legal challenge, told the Inquiry: 54
Written Evidence 21 - nia
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
the individual that sells sexual services, 56
Written Evidence 30 - Talita

prostituted women are perceived and treated “when you’re criminalised, not only does it then 57
Including: Written Evidence 2 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 1; Written Evidence 9 - Beyond the Streets; Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby; Written
Evidence 18 - NAWO; Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs; Written Evidence 21 - nia; Written Evidence 26 - SWARM; Written Evidence 30 - Talita; Fiona
as criminals. Naturally, this in turn affects the make you feel like an absolute filthy piece of Broadfoot, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs
dirt, having that label attached to you, but

availability of and their access to recovery and 59

Centre for Women’s Justice, Sex Trade Survivors Win Crucial Victory: Disclosure of Soliciting Convictions is a “disproportionate interference with private life”
reintegration services.” 56 it’s a massive issue when you’re trying to exit. and “not in accordance with the law” (2018)
Fiona Broadfoot, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
Because, obviously, the DBS procedure, you Written Evidence 26 - SWARM

Scottish Government, Legislative Programme 2018-19 (2018)
Alan Caton OBE, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018

26 27
THE CONNECTION separation stating that since the crime of human that, in countries where decriminalisation

BETWEEN trafficking was already criminalised no further legal

consideration needs to be made.71
had occurred, levels of trafficking were
seen to rise, suggesting that it was a pull-
factor.78 Arguments were made in the same

PROSTITUTION, Those in favour of criminalisation of demand

argue that there is an “inextricable link between
submission that prostitution is a gendered
phenomenon, overwhelmingly targeting


prostitution and trafficking”. 72 Rachel Moran, women and girls from economically and
speaking at an event in Brussels, echoing the racially marginalised groups.79 Further
sentiments of other evidence the Inquiry received, evidence about the impact of prostitution laws


stated: “Prostitution is the context in which sex on levels of trafficking is given in section 12 on
trafficking takes place”.73 This was echoed by others Evidence from other countries.
stating that “women are trafficked into prostitution It should be noted that one pro-

Prevalence of Modern Slavery types of slavery as sexual exploitation.68

The UK Government estimates that there For the purposes of this report, modern slavery
are approximately 13,000 victims of modern and human trafficking have been conflated
slavery in the country. The commonly as many definitions consider the latter to be a
accepted definition states that slavery is the subcategory of the former. Rachael Moran
exercise of a ‘right of ownership’ or possession
over another human which is enforced by

Is there a prostitution/ slavery spectrum?

control, physical or otherwise.64 Slavery, human because that market exists.” 74 This connection is decriminalisation submission did agree
The argument in regard to the connection

trafficking and the exploitation of prostitution demonstrated in the very concerning findings of that prostitution and human trafficking
between modern slavery and prostitution
are prohibited under international human a 2018 EUROPOL report that “In countries where were on a spectrum. Sex Workers Alliance
revolves around whether there is any
rights instruments, including Article 4 of prostitution is legal, suspects were able to exploit Ireland stated that: “Exploitation in sex work
equivalence between the two and, if so, where
the European Convention on Human Rights minors alongside adults in window prostitution, sex is on a spectrum, with trafficking for sexual
the boundaries on this ‘spectrum’ are. As can
and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the studios, night clubs, etc., often with the support of exploitation being on the severe end
be expected, the submissions to the Inquiry
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination the business managers.” 75 of the scale.” 80
fell into two broad camps.
against Women.65 The European Convention
on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings Another submission to the Inquiry noted that, since The difference between sexual exploitation
Those in favour of decriminalisation argued
and the UN Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Sweden adopted the Sex Purchase Act, “Trafficking and prostitution does not lie in the act, which
that there is no equivalence between the two.
Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons has been reduced because the demand for is the same, but in questions surrounding
Conflation between the two acts, it is argued,
Especially Women and Children both include women in prostitution has been reduced.” 76 Joy choice, consent and coercion.81 As set out in
have led to abolitionist arguments beginning
“the exploitation of the prostitution of others Smith, former Canadian MP, told Commissioners the section above, these are complex and
from false premises.69 Several individuals
or other forms of sexual exploitation” in the that that inter- and cross-state trafficking had often subjective questions.
stated that their autonomous choice to sell
definition of human trafficking. Slavery is decreased and that analysis in Canada had shown
sex, without considering themselves exploited,
a complex, varied and hidden crime that “a lot of apprehension of traffickers” and that “You Prof. Kevin Bales starkly set out the reality for
showed the lack of equivalence. As one put it:
is always evolving and encompasses many can see the progression from before the laws victims of sexual exploitation: “for the person
“prostitution is the exchange of sex for money
potential forms of abuse.66 Sexual exploitation were passed until after the laws were passed, caught up in trafficking or enslavement for
– nothing more and nothing less – and is no
is commonly considered by many authorities, how many trafficking cases occurred – which commercial sexual exploitation, there is no
more inherently exploitative than any other
including the UK Government to be a form of means that these women were rescued and the choice, there is no free will”.82
form of paid work” 70 echoing the distinctions
modern slavery.67 Indeed, the Home Office’s prostitution decreased.” 77 Pointing to a EUROPOL
drawn in Section 6 above on Navigating the
Typology of Modern Slavery lists 5 out of its 17 report, one respondent highlighted the finding
debate. Other submissions asserted their

28 29
The age of entry and consent must also be prostitution as a labour choice. Yet, As
considered. Of the four individuals with lived Per-Anders Sunesson, Swedish Ambassador
experience of prostitution who gave oral at Large for Combatting Trafficking in Persons
evidence to the Commission, three entered told a meeting in the House of Commons
prostitution while still young or legally recently, there may be other motives for
considered a child.83 This raises the inevitable maintaining this position: “I don’t know
question around whether these individuals, anyone who lived prostitution who did it
despite their protestations of free choice, can out of free choice. The fact is that many
be considered to have consented. say whilst within prostitution that it is their
choice - they need that for their dignity.” 85
Evidence to the Commission highlighted that In addition to the interconnections between
human trafficking is the method which delivers modern slavery and prostitution set out above,
the subject into slavery, with victims often perhaps the most illuminating is that both

moving between different forms of exploitation sex trafficking and sex willingly sold have the
once trafficked: “It is not uncommon for the same terminus: paid-for sex. It is demand
slave to be shifted from domestic slavery or for paid-for sex that drives them both. For
slavery in agriculture into slavery in commercial these reasons, and because the notion of free
exploitation or back again.” 84 choice and consent are extremely difficult to
establish within prostitution, the Commission
That existing systems of prostitution facilitate finds unpersuasive the Home Affairs Select
sexual exploitation is beyond doubt. It is Committee Report into Prostitution which
equally beyond doubt that the purchaser will claimed: “Trafficking for the purposes of sexual
rarely know the difference between a person exploitation is an important and separate
who was trafficked into prostitution, and issue from prostitution between
a person who was not. But not all of those consenting adults.” 86
in prostitution would consider themselves
exploited, and some say they have embraced

Research Network on the Legal Parameters of Slavery, Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines on the Legal Parameters of Slavery (2012)
Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour which the European Court has interpreted to include
human trafficking. Article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (1979) (CEDAW) places a binding obligation on
state parties (including the UK) to suppress trafficking and the exploitation of the prostitution of others: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures,
including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.”
UK Government, What is Modern Slavery? Frequently Asked Questions on Modern Slavery (2017)
UK Government, What is Modern Slavery? Frequently Asked Questions on Modern Slavery (2017)
Home Office Analysis and Insight, A Typology of Modern Slavery Offences in the UK (2017)
Written Evidence 1 - Abbey English
Written Evidence 6 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 5
Written Evidence 13 - ECP

Seo-Young, C. Dreher, A and Neumayer, E. Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking? Economics of Security Working Paper 71 (2012)
Rachel Moran “Prostitution is the place where sex trafficking happens” (Speaking at Stopping Prostitution and Trafficking, Brussels, 30th Sept 2013).
Written Evidence 22 - NMIN
Europol Situational Report: Criminal Networks involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European Union Document Ref. No.
1001370 October 2018, page 30
Written Evidence 29 - Swedish Women’s Lobby
Joy Smith, Oral Evidence, 11th July 2018
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International
Written Evidence 27 - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
EU Directorate General for Internal Policies, Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality (2014)
Prof Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
Fiona Broadfoot, Oral Evidence 28th March 2018; Rachel Moran, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018 ; Niki Adams, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018.
Prof Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
Meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, House of Commons, 24 April 2019
Third Report From The Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-17 HC 26

30 31
IS SUPPORT needs to offer exiting support, which “needs
to be backed by sufficient funds to deliver
Thirdly, the services themselves faced
criticism. The Inquiry heard that many users

this support on a nationwide basis.” 94 One had practical problems such as travelling long
frontline support worker, supported by distances for appointments with different
research from an exiting service, stated the services, and the concern about having to go

importance of “accommodation-based” to locations where they did not feel safe.100
services that provide a safe space where Research has shown that exiting service users
individuals can consider their next path.95 placed high importance on “safe spaces” and

However, it was noted that these are hard to in the way that they were “met and spoken
maintain without ring-fenced, guaranteed to”, and that a negative first meeting would
incomes, and that the “present housing lead to them not accessing the service again.

model is a poor fit for women experiencing Even after the first meeting, there was a
multiple and complex needs.” 96 strong negative impact of a support worker
who seemed not to pay attention or being too
Speaking about his experience in Ipswich, rushed.101 This is concerning when combined
Alan Caton OBE highlighted the issue with evidence from those currently selling
surrounding support relying on donations. sex that services are “condescending” and
His experience showed that the most effective treating them “like me need to be ‘saved’ from
support was “holistic exiting strategies myself.” 102 Lack of conditionality and holistic
through the work of the multi-agency support were highlighted as crucial in the
team.” 97 Referencing the complex needs of success of exiting services.103
Section 9 has already addressed the negative impact of criminal those wishing to exit, he stated that support
convictions on those seeking to exit prostitution. This section will services need to include organisations such The confusion surrounding the neutrality of
as “police, social workers, family practitioners, exiting services is currently an impediment to
not repeat those arguments, but will address the services available [and] drug treatment agencies” 98 working their access: “A strong disincentive to engage
for those seeking to leave. together on a “case-by-case basis.” Several with “exit” services among sex workers is
submissions stated that this kind of the fear that information about themselves

holistic support can only be effectively and or their clients will be passed on to law or
In the UK, dedicated services for those

The criticism heard by the Inquiry fell into

sustainably instated by legislative changes, immigration enforcement without their
wanting to leave prostitution are provided three main categories.
as well changes to benefit and housing consent.” 104 The negative impact on those
exclusively by non-governmental and civil Firstly, their number is limited: “Currently
structures. Caton again highlighted that while who might have suffered human trafficking
society organisations. Due to the often there are very few services specifically
this might have an initial punitive cost, overall or exploitation needs to be considered.
“multiple and complex needs” of these set up to support women involved in or
there would be a benefit for the Treasury, as
individuals, these services necessarily interact exiting prostitution”.90 The Inquiry heard
it was estimated in Ipswich that “for every
with state-funded entities such as addiction from one activist who stated that the
£1 spent on the strategy, we were effectively
support, criminal justice or mental biggest problem was the “failure to provide
saving £2 to the public purse.” 99
health services.87 adequate resources for the women and exit
strategies.” 91 The Inquiry also heard that,
The Inquiry heard from both sides of the within these organisations “there is a lack 87
Written Evidence 12 - Dr. Kathryn Hodges

ideological framing, that these services are not Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs

of comprehensive trauma-informed exiting 89

Written Evidence 2 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 1; Written Evidence 3 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 2; Written Evidence 5 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 4
currently adequate. As the National Ugly Mugs services offering a consistent approach”. 92 90
Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby

stated: “Provision of exiting services should be Rachel Moran, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018

Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project
available to those who want them no matter Secondly, as the services are provided by 93
Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby

which legal model is implemented.” 88 Even Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama

non-governmental organisations, they rely 95
Written Evidence 12 - Dr. Kathryn Hodges; Written Evidence 17 - Lauren Appleby
the submissions arguing for decriminalisation on donations for funding. This impacts on 96
Written Evidence 12 - Dr. Kathryn Hodges

tended to, when addressing the issue, call for Alan Caton OBE, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
the types of services offered as they are “often 98
Alan Caton OBE, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
adequate exiting services. Some, however, at risk of becoming generic services due to 99
Alan Caton OBE, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
did raise the ideological question of whether funding constraints and expectations.” 93
Written Evidence 12 - Dr. Kathryn Hodges
Written Evidence 12 - Dr. Kathryn Hodges
‘exiting’ services were needed at all.89 Several submissions argued that legislation 102
Written Evidence 3 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 2
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM

32 33
submissions stated that the law in France is being Nordic Model in Sweden has made conditions
implemented with a particular emphasis on worse119 and that police are informing landlords
protecting the welfare of women in prostitution.108 where tenants are selling sex leading to

Some submissions to the Inquiry stated that the forced evictions.
changes to Ireland’s laws had made prostitution
more dangerous,109 with an increase in reported The Swedish Police dispute this however, providing

violent crime110 however, others said that it had evidence that although landlords are given notice
led to people in prostitution being more willing that allowing prostitution on their premises is
to report crimes and police taking a more victim- illegal, to the Police’s knowledge there have been

JURISDICTIONS centred approach.111 It was also stated that the

impact of the legislation in terms of safety and
welfare for people in prostitution cannot yet
no cases of someone in active prostitution losing
his/her rental contract due to such activities.” 120
However, a 2008 Swedish Government Prostitution
be assessed due to a lack of implementation.112 Inquiry found that claims about worsening safety
Evidence from Norway suggested that people situations were baseless,121 and more recent

VARIATION IN PROSTITUTION LAWS in prostitution are less likely to experience serious reviews have found that police in Sweden report
violence113 but that they are still being targeted that women are more likely to seek support after
by police, mainly through enforcement of laws violence from buyers, given that sex buyers already
Prostitution laws vary widely across different countries and jurisdictions. Some, such as
governing third-party involvement.114 In Sweden, commit a crime in buying or attempting to buy
Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand follow a broadly legalising or decriminalising model;
some evidence submitted stated conditions were sex.122 The evidence assessment conducted for the
while others, such as Sweden, Norway, Canada and France follow broadly the Nordic or ‘end
more dangerous,115 with people in prostitution Scottish Government also noted that the primary
demand’ model. The Inquiry sought relevant contributions from these jurisdictions to inform its
feeling more persecuted,116 and that clients are research given as evidence of worsening safety in
recommendations for the UK Government.
refusing to be ‘screened’.117 There were reports in Sweden was conducted by academics opposed to
submissions of Swedish police not taking crimes the law and based on small sample sizes.123
The contributions fall into five major categories, outlined below. For ease of reading, the countries
reported by people in prostitution seriously.118
have been divided by broad legislative approach (Nordic Model or legalisation), even though each
Submissions to the Inquiry also stated that the
country has its own unique settlement. This section does not set out to provide a comprehensive
examination of each of the countries referred to, rather provides a summary of the available
evidence brought to the attention of the Commission.



In Germany, it is argued that legalisation has feel safer to contact police,128 and that clients
made people in prostitution more vulnerable were better behaved.129 Although evidence was
and that in 2017 the ‘Prostitute Protection Act’ also presented of a ‘price war’ on-and-off the

was introduced as an attempt to safeguard the streets,130 increased requests for unprotected
PROTECTIONS FOR PEOPLE IN health and safety of people in prostitution.124 The sex,131 lack of safety/security provision during
PROSTITUTION & IMPACT ON CONDITIONS Inquiry heard that, since legalisation the acts ‘outcalls’132 and working conditions not
being requested are becoming increasingly improving including a lack of employee rights,
violent, dangerous and degrading.125 The Inquiry sick pay, long shifts and limited access to
also heard that in the Netherlands a 2007 review healthcare.133 The official evaluation of the law in
COUNTRIES BROADLY FOLLOWING NORDIC MODEL: of the Dutch law highlighted the worsening 2008 reported that improvement in conditions
mental health state of people in prostitution, was not universal and brothels that had poor
Prior to the change to the law in France each living conditions, loss of income and increased while a 2009 survey reported that 45-50% of conditions prior to the change in the law had
year more than 1,500 people in prostitution demand for unprotected sex since the law people in prostitution cite violence as their continued to operate in the same manner
were arrested for soliciting offences, whereas changed106 (although this research was based main concern.126 Evidence submitted about and that the majority of people in prostitution
following the change there were no such arrests.105 on a very small sample and conducted by a New Zealand claimed that the legal change surveyed felt that the law decriminalising
Evidence was also submitted stating people in group of organisations who had campaigned meant 90% of people in prostitution enjoyed prostitution could do little about the violence
prostitution have experienced a deterioration in against the introduction of the law. 107) Other more legal and employment rights,127 that they that occurred.134

34 35


In Sweden the police report that the legal trafficked into the country”.138 Evidence from The Inquiry heard that a lack of police migrant people engaged in prostitution.156
changes have created a barrier to the Canada pointed to a reduction in trafficking numbers had presented a challenge for Other evidence stated that the police were
establishment of traffickers and pimps,135 as following the introduction of the law.139 In effective implementation of the law in focused on arresting clients rather than
well as making it easier for support services Ireland there are still reports of brothels Canada.152 Others meanwhile have accused supporting people in prostitution who had
to contact vulnerable women.136 Evidence being run by foreign gangs, despite the law the Canadian government of a high number suffered violence or rape,157 and that children
was also submitted that Norway is now changes,140 although we note criticism of of stops and identity checks for prostitution of people in prostitution were being taken

considered to be a less attractive destination the implementation of the law.141 Economic related crimes.153 In Ireland the government into care.158
for traffickers.137 Prof. Kevin Bales told the analysis indicates that countries which have and police have been criticised for their lack
Inquiry that, though the legislation in criminalised the purchase of sex have lower of proactive implementation.154 The Norway However, evidence from the Swedish
Norway has led to improvements, they are rates of human trafficking than those with system has been criticised for both the public Police states that police guidance is for the
“inadequate for those who are trapped in legalised prostitution.142 exposure of those in prostitution and the full forced of the law to be used in these
sexual exploitation, particularly those who are low level of convictions for the purchase of investigations including charging perpetrators
sex.155 In Sweden evidence was submitted with offences of rape, assault, drug crimes,
that immigration law (the Swedish Alien false imprisonment etc where relevant. 159
Act) is being used disproportionately against


Germany has become a haven for traffickers submissions stated that decriminalisation
and pimps since legalisation,143 with a has created a barrier to the identification and
large increase in trafficking from Eastern assistance of trafficking victims as police are COUNTRIES BROADLY FOLLOWING LEGALISING MODEL:

Europe, especially Romania and Bulgaria.144 interacting less with the wider sex industry.148

The owner of the Paradise leading chain Overall, there has not been a reduction in the In New Zealand the legally-mandated Health of Medicine has found that most public health
of brothels was recently convicted by level of trafficking.149 Moreover, there has been and Safety checks have rarely been carried offices have taken a reactive approach and
the German courts in relation to human a rise in reports of under 18 year old girls from out, and there were only 23 inspections no additional funding was given to health
trafficking, forced prostitution and fraud vulnerable communities, such as Maori and carried out between the law passing in 2003 services to resource their work.161
offences.145 For the Netherlands, evidence Polynesians, being prostituted; as well as a rise and 2015.160 Moreover, the Christchurch School
was also presented that legal changes have in the number of brothels owned by gangs.150
made it harder to fight sex trafficking and There continue to be issues of trafficking for
bolstered organised crime.146 EUROPOL has sexual exploitation in the states of Victoria
reported the trafficking and exploitation of and New South Wales in Australia which have
children alongside adults in EU countries decriminalised prostitution.151
with legalised prostitution.147 In New Zealand

36 37


In Norway the legislation changes have led to introduced in 1999), to 8% in 2008 and 7.5% in Evidence was submitted that social attitudes they believe prostitution to be a form of
a reduced demand,162 with the introduction 2014.164 Several submissions reported that the have changed in Sweden with buying violence suggesting a normative effect of the
of lessons on respecting women, exploitation industry did not shrink with the law change sex no longer considered acceptable in legislation.174 An evaluation of the Norwegian
and sanctity of body changing societal but moved online and indoors.165 However, Swedish society.173 Polling in France has law also concluded that there
views.163 Surveys in Sweden show a reduction a 2010 report by the Swedish Chancellor of recently indicated that 78% of French people had been a normative impact on attitudes
in the number of men reporting that they Justice concluded that the number of persons support the new law, with 74% stating and behaviour.175

had ever purchased sexual services from 13.6% in prostitution had halved overall and not just
in 1996 (before the law against purchase was been displaced into off-street locations.166


Prostitution is said to have ‘exploded’ in prostitution in Germany range from 150,000 to We heard that public attitudes in on the marketing of women for sex, tax
Germany following legalisation167 and 400,000.170 New Zealand have changed such that incentives offered by the State Government
reports describe increasing numbers of prostitution is now more socially acceptable, to the sex industry and has normalised the

‘macro-brothels’ and the country being a It is also suggested in a EUROPOL report that where previously men did not wish to be seen view that there is a class of women who exist

significant draw for ‘sex tourism’.168 European legalising prostitution may lead to increased entering brothels they now openly post about for men’s use and sexual gratification.177 We
Commission analysis estimates significantly demand.171 It has been suggested that street such visits on social media.176 Legalisation of note a petition against legalised prostitution
higher rates of prostitution per head of prostitution has increased in New Zealand prostitution in the Australian state of Victoria in the Netherlands recently gain over 42,000
population in Germany (30 times) and the by at least 400%, and that the total extent of is said to have normalised prostitution as signatures, reportedly largely from young
Netherlands (9 times) than in Sweden.169 prostitution is unknown due to the lack of a legitimate commercial activity, creating people suggesting a shift in attitudes among
Estimates for the number of people in registration requirements for small brothels.172 problems for local councils wishing to restrict young Dutch people.178
development of brothels, few restrictions

38 39


In Canada government money has been units engaging in outreach work and Immigrant Council of Ireland Comparative Report: Disrupt Demand Joy Smith, Oral Evidence, 11th July 2018
105 152

2018 153
Written Evidence 16 - NWSP
ring-fenced, including the revenue from collaborating with health services to facilitate 106
Written Evidence 31 - TAMPEP 154
Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama
Written Evidence 22 – NMIN
fines for purchasers, which has led to an those who wish to exit,182 as well as support Written Evidence 23 - PION

Written Evidence 22 – NMIN 156
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
improvement in services.179 In France the systems for men who want to stop 109
Written Evidence 3 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 2 157
Written Evidence 4 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 3
Written Evidence 13 - ECP; Written Submission 26 - SWARM
new law built in and funded exit pathways buying sex.183 Written Evidence 15 - Fuckförbundet Sverige

Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama 159
Correspondence from Kasja Wahlberg, Sweden’s National Rapporteur
and access to professional training,180 112
Written Evidence 22 – NMIN on Trafficking in Human Beings

Rasmussen, I., Strom, S., Sverdrup, S., Hansen Woien, V. Evaluation of Written Evidence 10 - CARE
although it has been said that many A large number of women who have
113 160

the ban on purchase sexual services Norway: Vista Analysis (2014) 161
Abel, G. Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C. The Impact of the Prostitution
people in prostitution have been deterred experience in prostitution in Sweden have 114
Written Evidence 23 - PION Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers Report
Written Evidence 1 - Abbey English to the Prostitution Law Review Committee (2007) p.150-154
by the restriction that those applying for cited the legislation as a positive incentive to 116
Written Evidence 16 - NWSP
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
these pathways must cease any form of begin the process of leaving prostitution. 184 117
Written Evidence 15 - Fuckförbundet Sverige
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018
Written Evidence 4 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 3
Holmström & Skilbrei eds. Prostitution in the Nordic Countries
prostitution.181 In Sweden there are support 119
Written Evidence 4 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 3 Conference report 2009 p29; County Administrative Board of
Stockholm Prostitution in Sweden 2014 The extent and development of
Correspondence from Kasja Wahlberg, Sweden’s National Rapporteur
prostitution in Sweden, 2015 page 24
on Trafficking in Human Beings
Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs; Written Evidence - 26
Swedish Government Report SOU 2010:49: The Ban against the
Purchase of Sexual Services. An evaluation
1999-2008 (2010)
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
Written Evidence 22 – NMIN
Rachel Moran, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018
Malloch, M. Robertson, L. Forbes, E. Evidence Assessment of the
EU Directorate General for Internal Policies, Sexual exploitation and
Impacts of the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex: A Review prostitution and its impact on gender equality (2014)
(Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research Scottish Government,
European Commission Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in
COUNTRIES BROADLY FOLLOWING LEGALISING MODEL: 2017) p. 32 human beings 2016, page 82
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
European Commission Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in
SPACE International, Shifting the Burden: Sex Trade Survivors human beings 2016, page 81
Symposium , 13 July 2016 Transcripts; Written Evidence 10 - CARE Europol Situation Report: Trafficking in Human Beings in EU Ref. No.

In Germany a government review found been recognised as making exiting easier,186 126
Written Evidence 10 - CARE 765175 February 2016
SPACE International, Shifting the Burden: Sex Trade Survivors
that exiting services have not improved, but there is also a lack of support for those 127
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
Symposium , 13 July 2016 Transcripts
Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs
and that specialist support for exiting exiting,187 including a lack of coordinated 173
Written Evidence 29 - Swedish Women’s Lobby; Written Evidence 30 -

Written Evidence 1 - Abbey English
prostitution remains rare.185 The removal of specialist services.188 130
Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama
CAP International, Survey: 78% of French people support the 2016 law

Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International penalizing the purchase of sexual acts and decriminalizing prostituted
historical convictions in New Zealand has 132
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International persons (French) (2019);
Written Evidence 9 - Beyond the Streets; Written Submission 10 - CARE 175
Rasmussen, I. Strøm, S. Sverdrup, S. & Hansen, V. Evaluering av forbudet
New Zealand Government, Report of the Prostitution Law Review mot kjøp av seksuelle tjenester Vista Analyse 2014 pages 11-14
Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 176
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International
(2008) 177
Sullivan, M L. Making Sex Work A failed experiment with legalised
Written Evidence 10 - CARE; Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE prostitution , Spinifex Press 2007, pages 328-343
International 178
BBC News, Dutch prostitution debate in parliament forced by youth
Written Evidence 30 - Talita petition (2019)
Written Evidence 22 - NMIN 179
Joy Smith, Oral Evidence, 11th July 2018
Prof. Kevin Bales CMG, Oral Evidence, 25th April 2018 180
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
Joy Smith, Oral Evidence, 11th July 2018 181
Written Evidence 20 - National Ugly Mugs
Written Evidence 3 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 2 182
Written Evidence 14 -Equality Now/SPACE International
Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama 183
Written Evidence 29 - Swedish Women’s Lobby
Written Evidence 10 - CARE; Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE 184
Correspondence from Kasja Wahlberg, Sweden’s National Rapporteur
International; Written Evidence 22 - NMIN on Trafficking in Human Beings
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International 185
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
Written Evidence 10 - CARE 186
Written Evidence 13 - ECP
Fondation Scelles, Conviction of Jurgen Rudloff: The end of Paradise! 187
Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project
(2019) 188
New Zealand Government, Report of the Prostitution Law Review
Written Evidence 10 - CARE Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003
Europol Situational Report: Criminal Networks involved in the (2008)
Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European
Union Document Ref. No. 1001370 October 2018, page 30
Written Evidence 10 - CARE
Written Evidence 22 - NMIN
Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama
Written Evidence 22 - NMIN

40 41

It was argued that criminalisation


extra strain on police resources if they had to
disproportionately affects those whose lives additionally police prostitution.202 It was also
“are already precarious” as it makes bodies highlighted that under the Nordic Model


of the people in prostitution the scene of the those engaged in prostitution have to pay
crime.196 One submission also claimed that it VAT, or the equivalent, but do not enjoy the
would increase the stigma suffered by those associated social security, although we recall

in prostitution,197 and that decriminalisation the evidence noted above regarding limited
makes those in prostitution safer as they access to social security under legalised
can work together.198 Moreover, several and decriminalised regimes. 203 It was also

responses argued that it would increase the suggested that criminalising any element of
socio-economic problems of this vulnerable prostitution infringes the rights of people in
The Inquiry also received evidence linking to the generic settlements group, as the industry is pushed further prostitution to privacy.204 However, we note
that are not specific to countries, but are worth considering. underground,199 and clandestine interactions that the French Supreme Court recently
would reduce workers’ ability to assess risk.200 dismissed a challenge to the new French
Demand is not reduced by criminalisation, prostitution law, ruling that the law does not
it was claimed, but more effort is taken by infringe the right to a private life, nor any of
those paying for sexual services to hide their the other rights in the French constitution.205
identity.201 Several responses highlighted the

It was argued that the Nordic Model’s ban on under the Nordic Model, pointing to the lower Written Evidence 24 - Ruhama

Written Evidence 34 - Women’s Support Project
the purchase of sex was the “only genuinely murder rates of people in prostitution in Mouvement du Nid and Psytel, Prostcost: Estimate of the economic and social cost of prostitution in France (Summary of the study’s results) (2016)

workable” legislative model to reduce the these countries as opposed to those countries
Written Evidence 14 - Equality Now/SPACE International

Answer 19/7810 to parliamentary question in the Bundestag number 19/7322 (German); reported in English here
demand that drives commercial sexual following a decriminalising model.194 It was 194
Written Evidence 9 - Beyond the Streets

exploitation.189 One woman involved in also argued that international human rights
Written Evidence 18 - NAWO
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
prostitution stated that criminalisation as the law prohibits the exploitation of prostitution 197
Written Evidence 6 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 5
Nordic Model facilitates is the only way to help and that States that have decriminalised or
Written Evidence 1 - Abbey English
Written Evidence 27 - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
those currently engaged in prostitution.190 tolerate pimping, procuring and the running 200
Levy, J. and Jakobsson, P., Sweden’s Abolitionist Discourse and Law, Effects on the Dynamics of Sex Work and on the Lives on Sweden’s Sex Workers
Submissions also presented arguments that of brothels, violate both the spirit and the (Criminology and Criminal Justice, 2014)
Written Evidence 26 - SWARM
economically the Nordic Model makes sense, letter of international human rights law, 202
Written Evidence 5 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 7; Written Evidence 8 - Anonymous ‘Sex Worker’ 7

as it reduces the public costs associated with and in particular their obligations under the Written Submission 23 - PION

Written Evidence 16 - NWSP; Written Submission 23 - PION
prostitution, including public health and Convention on the Elimination of all forms of 205
Conseil Constitutional Decision No. 2018-761 QPC of 1 February 2019

policing, which far outweigh any economic Discrimination Against Women.195

benefits gained in taxation.191 Submissions
argued that decriminalisation in New Zealand The Swedish Authorities consider central to
had failed to provide better conditions or the effectiveness of their legislation is the clear
access to sick pay and that pensions were understanding that prostitution and human
only available if individuals make their own trafficking for sexual purposes are violations of
contributions to a superannuation scheme.192 women’s human rights, the recognition of the
Recent evidence from Germany has strong link between prostitution and human
highlighted extremely low take up of social trafficking and that the root cause of both
security provision there.193 Another submission trafficking and prostitution is the demand.
argued that those in prostitution are safer

42 43
In the context of the UK, it is beyond question But evidence only takes you so far. Public policy
that there are inconsistencies in the letter, surrounding complex ethical questions cannot
spirit and enforcement of the law. This leads and should not be reduced to comparing

to unacceptable variance in police attitudes research from different jurisdictions with
towards people in prostitution, and different legal models. The ethical questions
widespread confusion within the legal system, must be addressed and, in a representative
and amongthe public and policy makers. democracy, Parliament must take a view.
The Commission, therefore, recommends
that immediate steps are taken to harmonise The Commission finds that one ethical
approaches to enforcement across police question above all separates the two dominant
authorities, including the publication and lobbies:the question of whether society ought
dissemination of new police guidance,
Despite the fraught and often ill-tempered nature of the debate, to sanction the purchase of sexual consent.
together with a review of existing guidance This language is disputed, but the Commission
there are clear areas of consensus. Most agree that, where to ensure that those caught in prostitution considers it accurate. The entire system of
practicable, criminal sanctions focused on people in prostitution are not disproportionately targeted by prostitution is predicated upon a pecuniary

brothel keeping laws. offer in exchange for sexual consent. In

should be relaxed, and prostitution related offences should be prostitution, therefore, sexual consent is quite
expunged from criminal records. Overall evidence to the Commission showed literally bought.
that the system of prostitution is a gendered
The repeal of the offence of soliciting for the on Regulation of Brothels, 2015; Huismann & phenomenon, overwhelmingly affecting The Commission believes that legalising the
purposes of selling sexual services is therefore Kleemans, 2014; Paulus, 2014). It showed that women, that is intimately and inextricably purchase of consent has profound implications.
recommended, together with measures to there is little robust evidence to demonstrate connected to sexual exploitation, sexual The law around consent is a mechanism to
prevent the disclosure of historic soliciting that decriminalisation or legalisation brings violence, violent crime and other crime. protect people from sexual abuse, and reflects
convictions - something which so often about an overall improvement in the safety Flowing from this reality, we recommend that the prevailing view of sex as an act of mutual
prevents those who wish to exit prostitution of those selling (eg. Kelly et al, 2009; German the Government’s Violence Against Women intimacy. A society which views sex as an act of
from moving on with their lives. Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior and Girls Strategy take account of the need mutual intimacy requiring free consent cannot
Citizens, Women and Youth, 2007). And it to reduce prostitution and to improve simultaneously be a society in which consent
Further, there is broad agreement that showed that there is evidence to suggest that exiting services. is sold. In this report both sides of the debate
prostitution is not itself a desirable enterprise. the normalisation of prostitution in culture have amply demonstrated that the choice
As a leading figure of the campaign for leads to more extreme sexual demands (eg. The Commission found that knowledge to enter prostitution is often compelled by

full decriminalisation said: “I want to see Norak & Kraus, 2018; Valisce 2016). surrounding the prevalence, associated risks, circumstances. Similarly both sides have made
and cultural impact of prostitution remains

prostitution abolished.” 206 There is much clear that, in prostitution, money substitutes
more ideological agreement than a superficial We also considered significant evidence that unacceptably patchy, with much of the for consent. In such circumstances, we cannot
reading might lead one to believe. It would legalising or decriminalising prostitution results available evidence lacking scientific objectivity credibly speak of consent given through free
be false to characterise the debate as an in increased levels of prostitution and human and sufficient methodological rigour. choice. By enabling the purchase of sexual
intractable standoff between those who trafficking (eg. Cho et al, 2013, Jakobsson & We therefore recommend that the consent we allow a market to be driven which
champion strict personal autonomy versus Kotsadam, 2013; Paulus, 2014) whereas those Government commission periodic reviews causes harm to those directly affected, and we
those who do not believe in free choices within countries which have criminalised the purchase into the prevalence of prostitution, social do damage to the broader social conception of
prostitution. Both sides clearly acknowledge of sexual services have seen lower rates of impact, and estimated economic costs. personal freedom. A honest appraisal of these
that the freedom to choose prostitution is both prostitution and trafficking (eg. Swedish arguments leads the Commission to conclude
impacted by many external factors which can Government, 2010; Rasmussen et al, 2014). That being said, however, if public policy were that the most effective way to safeguard
have a coercive effect, and can lead people determined by the available evidence alone sexual consent while reducing the market for
to choose prostitution even where there is no Countries which have legislated against as discussed above, the Commission would prostitution to the greatest possible extent is
obvious coercion from a third party. purchase of sexual services also report greater nevertheless be content to recommend to legislate to make paying for sexual services
emphasis on provision of services to help adopting a legal framework aimed at an offence.
Our Inquiry reviewed a growing body of people exit prostitution - something we reducing the number of people in
credible evidence showing that prostitution found to bein short supply in the UK - and prostitution to the greatest possible extent,
has a detrimental effect on mental and physical noticeable changes in public attitudes towards and to employ public health, ‘end demand’
health (eg. Scottish Government, 2017; Tyler, prostitution following implementation of and ‘exiting’ approaches to this end.
2012). Other evidence showed beyond doubt laws of this kind (eg. O’Connor, 2018; Swedish
that legalising or decriminalising prostitution Government 2010, CAP International, 2019).
does not cleanse it of attendant criminal Such outcomes are noteworthy and desirable. Niki Adams, Oral Evidence, 28th March 2018

activity (eg. NSW Parliament Select Committee

44 45

IN BRIEF Repeal laws on soliciting for the sale of sexual
services in England, Wales and Scotland.

Commission a review investigating how best to

Recommendations for HM Government strengthen and expand exiting services, as well as
modelling best-practice in this area.
and devolved administrations:

Bring forward legislation in England, Wales and

Scotland to protect people from coerced

sexual consent by creating a new criminal offence:
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (INTERIM) paying for sexual services.

Engage with communities in consultation with

police and key stakeholders to mitigate
possible unforeseen negative consequences of
Publish police guidelines on soliciting offences to repealing soliciting laws.
harmonise approach between police authorities.

Introduce new training and guidance for police and

prosecutors regarding the new offence of paying for
sexual services.
Review current guidance to ensure that

enforcement of laws such as brothel-keeping law


appropriately prosecute those who exploit others

but do not unnecessarily penalise those who sell Include steps aimed at reducing prostitution and
sexual services. supporting people to exit prostitution in the next
Violence against Women and Girls strategy for
2020 onwards.

Request the Law Commission produce a report into

sexual consent within prostitution. Publish a national strategy for streamlining support
for those wishing to leave prostitution, focused on
improving coordination between existing services,
Introduce secondary legislation as soon as possible and improving their availability and resourcing.
to amend filtering procedures to prevent disclosure
of historic soliciting convictions, including under
enhanced disclosure processes, where a person
Publish periodic estimates of the number of people
has never been convicted of any other offence. The
in prostitution together with economic
Scottish Government should ensure that the same is
analysis of public expenditure surrounding it.
true in Scotland following any changes made in the
proposed Disclosure Bill.

46 47

Loitering and soliciting for the purposes of • In Scotland, section 1 of the Prostitution
prostitution in public (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007,
contains the offence of soliciting or

• Loitering and soliciting in a public place for the
207 purposes of prostitution is illegal in England,Wales loitering in a public place (or other
and Scotland. A similar offence in Northern Ireland relevant place) for the purpose of
was repealed in 2015. obtaining the services of a person
engaged in prostitution. There is no
• In England and Wales, section 1 of the Street requirement that the person from
Offences Act 1959 (as amended by the Policing whom sexual services are sought is “a
and Crime Act 2009) criminalises persistent known prostitute” only that they were
loitering or soliciting for purposes of offering engaged in prostitution at the time.
sexual services. It is an offence for an adult
to persistently solicit or loiter in a street or • In Northern Ireland, under article 60 of

public place for the purposes of prostitution. the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland)
Conduct is persistent if it occurs on at least Order 2008 (amended by the Policing
two occasions in three months. and Crime Act 2009) it is an offence.

Sexual Offences Act 2003 is triable either • solicit a person in a street or public place
Controlling prostitution for gain • In Scotland, section 46 of the Civic
way and has a higher maximum penalty. for the purpose of obtaining sexual
• It is illegal to cause or control the prostitution Government (Scotland) Act 1982, sets out the
It was introduced to address situations services form that person in England
of another for gain across the UK offence of soliciting, loitering or importuning
where the offence of controlling and Wales. The offence replaced the
by an individual involved in prostitution for
prostitution for gain in section 53 of the previous offences of ‘kerb crawling’
• In England and Wales sections 52 and the purposes of providing sexual services for
Sexual Offences Act 2003 is difficult to and ‘persistent soliciting’.
53 of the Sexual Offence Act 2003 set payment. According to the Lord Advocate’s
prove as the owner has put themselves
out the offences of causing or inciting Guidelines a person must have received
at a distance from the actual running of • In Northern Ireland, article 64A (as
prostitution for gain and controlling warnings for prostitution on two previous
the establishment. amended by the Human Trafficking
prostitution. occasions from a police officer before it can be
proved that they are involved in prostitution. and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and
• It is also illegal in England and Wales Support for Victims) Act (Northern
• In Northern Ireland articles 62 and 63 of Thus, they can only be charged with an
for a landlord to let premises to be used

the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) offence on the third occasion. Ireland) 2015 prohibits the purchase of
as a brothel, or for a tenant to permit sexual services from a person, there is no
Order 2008 set out similar offences of

premises to be used as a brothel or for requirement that the person is someone

causing or inciting prostitution for gain Paying for sexual services
prostitution (sections 33-36 of the Sexual known to be involved in prostitution.
and controlling prostitution for gain. • In England, Wales and Scotland it is not illegal to
Offences Act 1956).
pay for sexual services in most circumstances but
• In Scotland section 7(1) of the Criminal is an offence to solicit another person in public for • In England and Wales, under section
• In Northern Ireland, article 64 of the 53A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (also
Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 the purposes of paying for sex. In Northern Ireland
Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) introduced by the 2009 Act) it is illegal to
includes offences of procuring women there is a general prohibition on the
Order 2008 makes it illegal to keep, pay for the sexual services of a prostitute
to be engaged in prostitution. Sections purchase of sex.
manage or assist in the management of subjected to force or other exploitative
11 and 13 set out offences of living on
a brothel. It is also an offence under the conduct. This is a strict liability offence,
the earnings of another person through • In England and Wales, section 51A of the
article for a tenant, lessee or occupier i.e. there is no requirement that the
prostitution. Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced by
of premises to knowingly allow the defendant knew that the person had
the Policing and Crime Act 2009 prohibits
premises to be used as a brothel. been subject to force or exploitation.
Brothel-keeping soliciting a person in a street or public place
• It is illegal to keep a brothel, i.e. a venue for the purpose of obtaining sexual services
• In Scotland, section 11(5) of the Criminal
where more than one person offers sexual form that person in England and Wales. This
Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995
services for payment (not necessarily at the replaced the old offences of ‘kerb crawling’
contains offences related to keeping a
same time) across the UK. and ‘persistent soliciting’ and includes a
brothel or permitting premises to be
• In England and Wales, the main person soliciting from a vehicle in a street or
used as a brothel.
offences are in sections 33 and 33A public place.
of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. The
offence in section 33A introduced by the

48 49
Human trafficking for sexual exploitation
• In England and Wales, section 47 of the TERMS OF
• Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual
Sexual Offences Act 2003 is an offence
exploitation is an offence across the UK.
of paying for the sexual services of a
• In England and Wales, the general
child. Where a child is aged 13 -17 there


offence of human trafficking is found
is a defence of reasonable belief that
in section 2 of the Modern Slavery Act
the child was aged 18 or over. Sections
2015 with sexual exploitation defined
48-50 set out offences of causing or
in section 3(3). Sections 57-59A of the
inciting, controlling and arranging or
Sexual Offences Act 2003 governs
facilitating the sexual exploitation of a
offences of trafficking into, within and
child. These offences were amended by
out of the UK for sexual exploitation
the Serious Crime Act 2015 to replace
prior to the introduction of the Modern

references to ‘child prostitution’ and

Slavery Act 2015.
‘child pornography’ with the term sexual Conservative Party Human Rights Commission legal instruments such as, Article 6 of the UN
exploitation which is defined in section Inquiry into the Reform of Prostitution Law Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
• In Northern Ireland, the offence of
51 as provision of sexual services or the of Discrimination against Women (1949) and
human trafficking is set out in section
recording or transmission of an the UN Convention on the Elimination of
2 of the Human Trafficking and
indecent image. March 2018 All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Exploitation (Criminal Justice and
According to their response to the Home (1979). Most activists also agree that people
Support for Victims) Act (Northern
• In Scotland, the Protection of Children Affairs Select Committee’s Report on in prostitution should not themselves suffer
Ireland) 2015, sexual exploitation is
and Prevention of Sexual Offences Prostitution (2016), the Government is criminal sanctions.
defined in section 3(3). Prior to the
(Scotland) Act 2005 includes offences “committed to tackling the harm and
introduction of the 2015 Act trafficking
related to the sexual exploitation of exploitation that can be associated with Recent parliamentary reports on this issue
for sexual exploitation was prohibited by
children including, in section 9, offences prostitution.” 1 All the major campaigning have been the APPG for Prostitution and the
sections 57-59 of the Sexual Offences voices agree that the current legal settlement
related to purchase of sex with a child Global Sex Trade’s Shifting the Burden (2014)2
Act 2003. falls short of this objective. There is, therefore, and the Home Affairs Select Committee’s
and, in sections 10 – 12, offences related
to the procuring or control of children an argument to be made for further reflection Inquiry into Prostitution (2016).3 The former
• In Scotland, the Human Trafficking
for the purposes of sexual exploitation. and policymaking. looked closely at the operation of the current

and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, legal settlement and concluded that current
section 1, sets out the offence of human

• In Northern Ireland, articles 37-40 of Broadly speaking, there are two dominant UK law was “failing to protect those most
trafficking with sexual exploitation
the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) perspectives regarding legislation: full vulnerable and to adequately prosecute
defined by section 3(3)-(5). Section 22 of perpetrators”4 and the latter looked at whether
Order 2008 contain offences related decriminalisation, which seeks to repeal all
the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 the burden of criminality should shift to those
to the sexual exploitation of children prostitution specific laws, and a legislative
criminalised offences of trafficking for who pay for sex rather than those who sell it.
including purchasing of sexual services model which repeals offences which apply
the purposes of prostitution prior to the That Inquiry came to the conclusion existing
(article 37) and causing or inciting, to those in prostitution, while criminalising
2015 Act. legislation should be changed in order to
controlling and arranging or facilitating the purchase of sex. These alternative models
child sexual exploitation in prostitution derive from different understandings of decriminalise soliciting and ensure that that
Children brothel-keeping provisions allow those in
or pornography (articles 38-40). what prostitution is, varied philosophical
• Across the UK it is illegal to pay for sex with prostitution to share premises.5
perspectives - especially regarding the nature
a person who is under the age of 18 and
of personal autonomy - and conflicting views
also to cause or incite or control the sexual The Government’s response to this Inquiry
about how practically to mitigate sexual
exploitation someone under 18. highlighted their hesitation to make any
formal changes to legislation without further
That said, there are some areas of investigation.
correspondence. It is widely acknowledged
that prostitution is and has been a vehicle
for sexual exploitation, including human We are aware of the different legislative
trafficking. This is recognised by international approaches to prostitution taken across

Sources: (1) Home Office, Written evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee 2016 Ref PRO0236 ; (2) Criminal Prosecution Service, Guidelines on

Prostitution and Exploitation of Prostitution ; (3) Scottish Government Exploring available knowledge and evidence on prostitution in Scotland via
practitioner-based interviews (2016); (4) Lord Advocate’s Guidelines to Chief Constables on the Enforcement of Soliciting and Loitering Offence by
Purchasers and Lord Advocate’s Guidelines to Chief Constables on the Enforcement of Soliciting and Loitering Offence by Prostitutes (2012); (5) Department
of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland, Leaving Prostitution: A Strategy for help and support (2015)
50 51
the world, and we have yet to see Terms of Reference: ANNEX 2A.

unequivocal evidence that any one The Inquiry’s full terms of reference are:
approach is better at tackling harm and
exploitation, which remains our priority.
(i) To consider how policies responding

As the Committee highlights, there

are difficulties with the evidence base
in this area. In particular, we share the
to prostitution impact the protection of
human rights ENTRIES
Committee’s concerns that the various (ii) (i) To examine evidence on the
alternative approaches put forward impact of two models of legislation in
The Inquiry requests responses to this call for Please describe your interest in the questions
by experts and academics fall short of different countries on: evidence as soon as possible. The deadline for raised by this inquiry:
offering complete models which take into (a) Personal autonomy and choice of submissions is 6 p.m. on 17th May 2018.
account the diverse experiences of those those affected; If you do not wish your identity to be
involved in prostitution and sex work. (b) The safety of people in Evidence can be submitted via email at cphrc. published alongside your submission, please
Also, as reflected upon by the Committee,

prostitution; specify your reason. If the entirely of your

none of these are directly transferable to (c) The exploitation of foreign submission is confidential and you do not
the context of England and Wales for a migrants and trafficked persons; Alternatively, you can write to: want any part of it to be published, please
number of practical reasons. However, we (d) The support and opportunities Fiona Bruce MP state your reason for this.
recognise that there may be elements available for those who wish to exit Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights
of these approaches which could be prostitution Commission Call for Evidence questions:
valuable in reducing harm6
House of Commons
The two models to be considered Westminster 1. Have you lived in a jurisdiction which
The Government Response to the Home
here are - “full decriminalisation” London has passed laws following either the
Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into
in which all prostitution-specific full decriminalisation or Nordic models
laws are removed and the so-called Please note there is an upper limit of 4000 relating to prostitution? If so, please
“Nordic” model in which those in words per submission. Evidence will be made describe your experience.
This Conservative Party Human Rights
prostitution are decriminalised but public once the report has been published.
Commission’s Inquiry recognises that sexual
where it is a criminal offence to Please do, therefore, indicate if you wish your 2. How do you think these two models -
exploitation is a human rights violation.
purchase, organise, manage or profit evidence to be kept anonymous. which have received the most attention in
The overarching goal of this Inquiry is
from prostitution. recent years -impact;

to consider how best to reduce sexual

(a) The safety of those in prostitution;

exploitation, linked to prostitution, and its Respondent’s Details:

(ii) To examine the adequacy of current (b) Exploitation of foreign migrants and
attendant abuses together with improving Name:
legislation in the UK and the likely trafficked persons;
protection for vulnerable individuals,
impact of the two proposed legislative (c) Exiting services.
including trafficked people. In so doing, Contact Details:
this Inquiry will scrutinise differing views on
Are you responding on behalf of an 3. What legislative change would you like to
when prostitution is believed to become
(iii) To explore the schools of thought see? How would it affect the daily reality of
exploitative. It will also further collate and Organisation or as an individual?
underpinning differing perspectives on those in prostitution?
interrogate extant evidence for the efficacy
prostitution and to assess their claims in
of different legislative models with particular Name of Organisation (if applicable):
the light of available evidence. 4. At what point does prostitution become
focus on global attempts to criminalise the
Position in Organisation (if applicable): exploitation?
purchase of sexual services.
(iv) To make recommendations for the
UK Government. 5. Additional comments.

The Government Response to the Third Report from the Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-17 HC 26: Prostitution, P.1
APPG for Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade. (2014). Shifting the Burden Inquiry to assess the operation of the current legal settlement on prostitution in
England and Wales, House of Commons.
Home Affairs Select Committee. (2016). Inquiry into Prostitution, Third Report from Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-2017.
APPG for Prostitution and the Global sex Trade. (2014). Shifting the Burden Inquiry to assess the operation of the current legal settlement on prostitution in
England and Wales, House of Commons, p.48
Home Affairs Select Committee. (2016). Inquiry into Prostitution, Third Report from Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-2017, p.38
The Government Response to the Third Report from the Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016-2017, p.5

52 53


The Commission received written evidence

from the following:
Abbey English
Beyond the Streets
White Ribbon Campaign
Comisión para la Investigación de Women’s Support Project
Malos Tratos a Women@thewell
Mujeres (spain) Plus 7 self-described ‘sex workers’ whose
Dr. Kathryn Hodges names were given to the Commission but who
English Collective of Prostitutes requested to be quoted anonymously.

Equality Now/SPACE International Additional correspondence from Kasja


Fuckförbundet Sverige Wahlberg.

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NWSP)
Lauren Appleby A debate was moderated by Baroness
National Alliance of Women’s Organisations Hodgson of Abinger, with Julie Bindel and
(NAWO) Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon representing
National Board of Catholic Women in England either side of the two prevailing legislative
and Wales campaigns. The event was recorded and
National Ugly Mugs treated as an evidence session.
Nordic Model Information Network (NMIN) The Commission held three oral evidence
PION sessions and took evidence from the following:
Ruhama Alan Caton OBE
Ruth Strawberry Elizabeth
SWARM Professor Kevin Bales CMG
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) Fiona Broadfoot
Stephanie Joy Smith
Swedish Women’s Lobby Niki Adams
Talita Rachel Moran


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