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20 June 2013

Prostitution Bill – Urgent call to contact MSPs

Prostitution Bill – Urgent call to contact MSPs

Christians in Scotland are being urged to contact their MSPs in the next week as Rhoda Grant's bill to criminalise the purchase of sex reaches a crucial stage.

The Evangelical Alliance, as part of the Abolition Scotland coalition, has been supporting this bill and many Alliance supporters responded to the consultation in late 2012. The results of the consultation have now been published and they are impressive. Almost 1,000 people responded to the consultation (extremely high for a Member's Bill consultation) and of these 80 per cent were in favour of the bill. Support for the bill was broad and ranged from NHS health boards to women's aid groups, organisations supporting women in prostitution, medical professionals, churches and individuals.

The bill has now been published and is open to MSPs of all parties to sign in support. To progress further the bill needs to attract the support of 18 other MSPs from at least three political parties in the Scottish Parliament (currently these are SNP, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent). At present it is supported by members of two parties but not yet three. These signatures must be collected before the summer recess that begins at the end of June.

The Evangelical Alliance Scotland is encouraging all supporters to contact their MSPs as a matter of urgency to ask them to support this bill. At this stage they are not committing to vote in favour of the bill but rather to allowing the proposal to be properly considered and debated at Holyrood. Click here to find out who your MSPs are.

Notes:

You might like to consider making the following points in your e-mail or letter (thanks to CARE for Scotland for these):

1. That demand for prostitution is the abuse of women and many young women are forced into the sex industry as a result of human trafficking or drug dependency. Home Office figures reveal that homelessness, living in care, debt and substance abuse are all common experiences prior to a person entering prostitution. Many people, (perhaps even as many as 50 per cent) are drawn into prostitution under the age of 18. Many people in prostitution experience violence and abuse both in the home and in the course of prostitution. A staggering 80-95 per cent of people in street-based prostitution are addicted to class A drugs, and pimps and trafficker often use drug dependency as a form of control. (Paying the Price, Home Office 2004). A study of prostitution in Glasgow in 2010 echoed these findings revealing high levels of alcohol and drug use, violence, homelessness and under age involvement experienced those in prostitution in that city. (Matthews and Easton 2010)

2. That similar legislation in Sweden and Norway has had a dramatic effect on reducing the rates of human trafficking and prostitution. Studies have shown that prostitution has been halved since the Swedish law was introduced and researchers at Gothenburg University have shown that Sweden has much lower levels of trafficking than in neighbouring countries Denmark and Finland (Jakobsson & Kotsadam 2010). The Swedish police report that they have evidence of traffickers avoiding Sweden and considering it a "bad market" for coerced prostitution.

3. That by signing the proposal MSPs are saying that they are happy for the Bill to be debated and for the issues involved to be examined by a parliamentary committee.

4. That this issue will not go away and it would be better to have a full and frank consideration of the facts by the Scottish Parliament.