Make purchase of sex illegal, urges Church of Scotland

Tue, 10 Feb 2015

The Church of Scotland alongside other faith groups and organisations has called on the Scottish Government to make buying sex illegal.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the signatories urge Holyrood to adopt a law which criminalises the purchase of ‘sex services’.

The letter follows the introduction of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill last year.

Traffickers

Leading figures within the Church of Scotland, alongside Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims and Sikhs, say that the current law needs to be amended.

The letter was drafted by the convener of the Scottish churches’ anti-human trafficking group, Professor Hazel Watson.

It reads: “Sex trafficking does not just exist because its victims are vulnerable – it exists because there is a demand for commercial sex that traffickers can exploit and profit from”.

Exploitation

Prof Watson said that she welcomed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, but believes there is “an important element missing”.

She said that it would be good to see Scotland adopt a model “supporting women to leave prostitution”.

The move was welcomed by Anne McIlveen, the coordinator of a Glasgow-based charity called Salt and Light, which provides clothes and food for prostitutes and prays with them.

Outlaw

She said: “A lot of these girls are in it because they’ve got addictions, they’re living in poverty and it’s the only way they can see to feed habits or to get drink or to pay the electric bill.”

Michael Matheson MSP, the Justice Secretary, said that he will write to Church of Scotland representatives to offer a meeting to discuss the issue.

A Bill outlawing the purchase of sex was passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly last year, making the Province the first part of the UK to bring in such legislation.

‘Landmark moment’

DUP Peer and MLA Lord Morrow told the Northern Irish Assembly that his Christian faith was his motivation for bringing forward the legislation.

Christian charity CARE said the ruling was a “landmark moment in the fight against modern day slavery”.

CARE’s Northern Ireland Policy Officer Mark Baillie said the Bill “tackles one of the root causes of trafficking, namely paying for sex”.

He added: “It is clear there is a growing international consensus to tackle the problem of human trafficking through law and Northern Ireland is now an example for other countries to follow”.