Scottish Parliament votes down MSP’s amendments to make buying of sex illegal as new report says that Sweden’s laws to ban the buying of sex are a "success".

7 July 2010

Marlyn Glen revealed today that the decision by the Scottish Parliament to vote down her amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that would have made it an offence to purchase sex came three days before a report in Sweden stated that the country’s laws to make it a criminal office to purchase sex had been a "success"

Last week ( 30th. June) Ms. Glen tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill put forward by Labour to "introduce new sections into the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 under which it would be illegal both to engage in and to advertise paid-for sexual activity. " with the intentions to " make it an offence to buy sex using any form of payment, including payment in kind and presents."


However, these amendments were voted down.

Three days later, a report in Sweden said that a law first introduced in 1999 , which made the buying of sex a criminal offence, had helped to cut by half the level of street prostitution in Swedish cities.

The law in Sweden, the first country in the world to make the purchase of sex a criminal offence, states that "purchasing a sexual service on one single occasion is sufficient for criminal liability," whether by money or alcohol or drugs.

The report said,

"The evaluation shows that the ban on the purchase of sexual services has had the intended effect and is an important instrument in preventing and combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.

"This reduction may be considered to be a direct result of the criminalization of sex purchases."

The ban was described as an " important instrument to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and to protect those people who are, or who risk becoming, involved in prostitution."

Ms. Glen described the vote against her amendments in the Scottish Parliament as an "embarrassing decision" which was " a vote against what has been shown to work in a country such as Sweden with an long-standing progressive reputation on women’s rights."


The text of Ms. Glen’s speech on her amendments is given below


After section 34C

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Amendment 6, in the name of Marlyn Glen, is grouped with amendments 79 and 7.

Marlyn Glen : I acknowledge and pay tribute to the work that Trish Godman has done on the issues that are addressed in the amendments in the group, which seek to introduce new sections into the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 under which it would be illegal both to engage in and to advertise paid-for sexual activity. The penalty for so doing would be

"A fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale".

Margo MacDonald: Will the member give way?

Marlyn Glen: I would like to get started.

Basically, the first new section would make it an offence to buy sex using any form of payment, including payment in kind and presents.

The amendments are an attempt to recognise and deal with the exploitation, violence and abuse that are a reality for the majority of individuals—female and male—who sell sex. The amendments focus on the buyer of sex, acknowledge the harm of prostitution, challenge its acceptance and recognise the analysis of prostitution as being on the spectrum of violence against women. This Government accepts that analysis, as did the previous Government.

Margo MacDonald: Will the member now give way?

Marlyn Glen: I would like to move on.

Margo MacDonald: Will you define "sexual activity"?

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order.

Marlyn Glen: Thank you, Presiding Officer.

For too long, interventions have focused solely on the women who are engaged in prostitution—in the main, it is women—and not on demand. It is high time that we started to work together to control the demand for paid-for sex and take further the provisions that we introduced in the previous session to tackle so-called kerb crawling. The legislation in that regard provides a deterrent that works. Members know that from examples in our constituencies where it has been used to excellent effect. We now need a further deterrent to curb the demand for buying sex. In particular, work must be done before the commencement of construction work for the Commonwealth games.

The amendments are not directed at women working in prostitution, but the dangers of commercial sexual exploitation cannot be ignored. Routes out of prostitution must continue to be recognised and supported.

At stage 2, concern was expressed about driving prostitution indoors and underground, but organisations such as the trafficking awareness-raising alliance have no difficulty finding and supporting women now, whatever their circumstances. I am confident that TARA and other, similar organisations will adapt and continue their services in new circumstances.

The bill is extremely wide ranging. I thank the members of and clerks to the Justice Committee for the work that they have put into it. However, I suggest that agreeing to amendments 6 and 7 would make a massive difference to the lives of many women, mainly young people, who could be helped to make different choices in their lives. If we take a lead, we can challenge the acceptance of and address the demand for paid-for sex.

I move amendment 6.


Link to news story on the success of the Swedish law.

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