Call for softer prostitution stance in Scotland under fire

Prostitution is harmful and often leads to women turning to drugs or alcohol to try and cope, campaigners have said as they criticised a call to decriminalise activities related to buying and selling sex.

Independent MSP Jean Urquhart has proposed a Bill on the issue in Scotland, saying that prostitution will never end and so needs to be made “much safer and much healthier”.

However the End Prostitution Now group, which wants to criminalise the purchase of sex, highlighted the dangers intrinsic to prostitution.


Jan MacLeod, of End Prostitution Now, said that evidence showed it is a “harmful experience”.

“Many women think they can enter the profession for a short term but they end up becoming disassociated because of the impact it has on them and often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.”

Urquhart’s Bill would pave the way for legalised brothels and see women able to use a small claims court if someone does not pay for sex.

The MSP said she was not taking a stand on whether prostitution is “right or wrong”.

Amnesty International

In Scotland it is currently not illegal to sell or buy sex. However, activities such as running a brothel, kerb-crawling and public solicitation are criminal offences.

Recently Northern Ireland made the purchase of sex illegal, after a Bill by Lord Morrow was passed in the Stormont Assembly.

In July, Hollywood stars spoke out against an Amnesty International proposal to adopt a policy in support of the decriminalisation of prostitution.


Anne Hathaway, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet were among thousands who signed a petition against the move.

However, in August the human rights organisation voted in favour of the stance.

Bridget Perrier, who was sold into prostitution at the age of twelve, said the decision was a “human rights violation in itself”.