United Kingdom: Review of Prostitution Laws Reveals Urgent Need for Reform
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 12:50 PM

An all-party group (APPG) of UK parliamentary members issued a report in March analyzing the findings of a year-long investigation into prostitution and sex trafficking in England and Wales. The report, the first major multi-party parliamentary report on prostitution since 1996, concludes that England and Wales should adopt the "Nordic Model" of prostitution supported by a recent European Parliament resolution, and decriminalize the selling of sex to reduce demand and combat sex trafficking. 
 
The authors of the report, “Shifting the Burden: An Inquiry to assess the operation of current legal settlement on prostitution in England and Wales,” reviewed hundreds of submissions of evidence and found that existing prostitution laws were complex, confusing, and failed to prevent sex trafficking or protect vulnerable women and girls. Furthermore, the report found significant loopholes in the system that allowed perpetrators of trafficking, abuse and sexual assault related to the sex trade to escape prosecution, and that “shocking levels of poverty, addiction, and abuse” are the norm for many prostituted and trafficked women.
 
The authors concluded that "the burden of criminality should weigh heaviest on those who purchase sex - who create demand - not those who provide sexual services." They recommend following the lead of Scotland and acknowledging prostitution as a form of violence against women, consolidating prostitution laws into a single Act of Parliament that clearly penalizes buyers of sex and protects prostituted women and girls, and removing defenses that allow men to claim a "reasonable" belief that a girl was old enough to consent to sex.
   
Compiled from: Osborne, Hannah, Nordic Model of Prostitution in England & Wales Called for By MP Gavin Shuker in Report, International Business Times (March 3, 2014), Mungazi, Carl, Parliamentary Group Chaired by Luton South MP Gavin Shuker Releases Report into Prostitution, Luton & Dunstable Express (March 3, 2014)