Speech in the Scottish Parliament

Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill

30 June 2010

Marlyn Glen moves amendments to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 under which it would be illegal both to engage in and to advertise paid-for sexual activity.

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.


Summing up speech :

Marlyn Glen: I am conscious of time, so I will sum up the debate by repeating that we should not miss this opportunity.

Major change is required to stop commercial sexual exploitation.

Prostitution cannot be regarded as a career choice, as has been said, nor as just another industry with workers.

In reply to Stewart Maxwell, I say that, sadly, similar arguments to his used to be made against the introduction of legislation against domestic abuse.

I ask members to take a lead and to challenge the acceptance of, as well as to address the demand for, paid-for sex. I ask them to vote for amendment 6.


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