Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in Scotland

People are bought and sold, and are trafficked all over the world for sexual exploitation, often taken to countries where prostitution is legalIncluding Scotland.

Legal prostitution is a magnet for traffickers

Both the purchase and sale of sex are currently legal in Scotland. Soliciting in a public place, kerbcrawling and pimping are all illegal, as is running a brothel (though brothels have been tolerated in some areas, licensed as massage parlours or saunas). Currently the only legislation against the purchaser is against kerbcrawling. Demand for prostitution therefore remains high, which creates profits for traffickers and pimps.

Prostitution is exploitation, even if trafficking is not involved

It is true that many prostitutes are not trafficking victims, but it is also known that many prostitutes are addicted to illegal drugs, a large proportion entered prostitution as a child, many were sexually abused as a child and many have experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of clients or pimps. Though there are some who claim to choose prostitution as their occupation, the majority are captive to abuse, poverty or addiction.

The purchase of sex is almost always the exploitation of a vulnerable person.

What difference could be made by criminalising purchase?

Since the purchase of sex was criminalised in Sweden in 1999, both demand for prostitution and trafficking rates have been vastly reduced, because those who buy sex risk jail and traffickers can no longer make the profits they once could. The number of women brought in to Sweden for prostitution is now a fraction of the numbers seen in neighbouring countries. Public opinion in Sweden has also changed: the vast majority of the population now see prostitution as a form of exploitation. Criminalising the purchase of sex has made a clear statement about the inestimable value of women.