Members of the UK armed forces face being discharged if they buy sex whilst serving overseas, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stated.
The ban has been announced as part of a wider strategy to tackle “unacceptable sexual behaviour” by British troops, including a zero tolerance approach to ‘abuse of trust’ relationships between instructors and trainees.
Writing in The Times, Janice Turner branded prostitution “inherently abusive” and asked why the new policy only applied to “foreign brothels”.
According to the MoD, the new policy “will ensure that every allegation will be responded to” and “introduces a presumption of discharge” for anyone found to be “buying sex whilst deployed outside the UK”.
Defence Minister Lee Docherty said: “Abusive, discriminatory or predatory behaviour has no place in our Armed Forces and these measures send a clear message that these types of behaviours will not be tolerated.”
Times columnist Turner observed: “The question is not why soldiers should be banned from foreign brothels, but why only abroad. What prostitution is not a ‘sexual activity that involves the abuse of power’?”
She concluded: “No man should have impunity when buying a woman’s body, whether out on a stag night or serving his country.”
In the nineteenth century, society outwardly condemned prostitutes while turning a blind eye to the men who paid for them.
This double standard was exemplified in the Contagious Diseases Acts, enforced in many garrison towns and ports. Police were permitted to arrest innocent women and force them to undertake an intrusive examination for venereal disease.
Widely recognised as one of the UK’s greatest humanitarians, Josephine Butler, driven by her Christian faith, campaigned tirelessly against this ‘state-sponsored’ prostitution, eventually seeing the Contagious Disease Acts abolished in 1886.