In Scotland, it is legal to purchase sexual services and it is legal to be an online pimp. This makes it easier for women and girls to be exploited and reinforces gender inequality. A joint letter by the Evangelical Alliance and Restore Glasgow along with 14 other organisational and church signatories is calling for the Scottish government to make legislative change in light of its recognition that prostitution is “a form of violence against women”.

Scotland currently legalises violence against women. This injustice must be challenged. As Christians, we reflect the nature of our Creator in seeking to end injustices against those who are exploited and vulnerable, especially and including gendered injustices. 

The open letter urges the Scottish government to make four key policy changes:

  1. Criminalise the purchase of sex, while simultaneously decriminalising the selling of sex, recognising that the responsibility for change must come from men who purchase these services.
  2. Provide support and exiting services for those involved in prostitution.
  3. Implement public education and messaging around the prospective law, helping the public to make the connection between the purchasing of sexual services and violence against women and girls.
  4. Specific criminalisation of online pimping, based on research by the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, which found that loopholes in the law have been exploited throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and in the movement of women and girls from Ukraine following the invasion by Russia.

On 8 December, we convened outside the Scottish Parliament alongside Restore Glasgow following the submission of our open letter, which coincided with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. We had a positive response from MSPs and look forward to working with them as we seek to end these deep injustices for women and girls across Scotland.

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Restore Glasgow work to end human trafficking in Glasgow and support women and girls who are being exploited. They provide training courses teaching how to spot signs of trafficking hiding in plain sight, hold regular times of prayer and campaign for policy changes to make it harder for traffickers to operate in Scotland’s biggest city.

CARE for Scotland, one of the co-signatories to the open letter, is a member organisation of the Evangelical Alliance and is a longstanding campaigner on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation. Their Scottish parliamentary officer, Michael Veitch, said on the issue:

Prostitution is an inherently exploitative form of gender-based violence that unquestionably creates a market for trafficking. For the sake of the women who continue to be harmed and exploited in Scotland, it is essential that policymakers move to criminalise the purchase of sex without delay, and to actively help those looking to escape.”

This week, the Scottish government published their policy principles for challenging men’s demand for prostitution, based on the recommendations of a short life working group. The national approach will be:

A strong, consistent and unambiguous national message that is understood and promoted throughout policy and practice on national and local levels that reinforces that there is no place for commercial sexual exploitation of any individual in Scotland. It will make plain that prostitution and wider commercial sexual exploitation are a form of violence against women and girls, and that this will not be tolerated in Scotland. Those perpetrating exploitation (such as sex buyers and profiteers) will be held to account”

We welcome the strength of this commitment and urge the Scottish government to take on the legislative steps outlined in our open letter (attached below). For if prostitution is a form of violence against women”, then Scotland must criminalise violence against women.

Co-signatories:

Apostolic Church (Scotland), Bethany Christian Trust, CARE for Scotland, Findlay Memorial Church, Free Church of Scotland, Glasgow City Mission, Life Church Paisley, Logos Scotland, Newton Mearns Baptist Church, Parkhead Nazarene Church, St Paul’s & St George’s (Ps & Gs) Church, The New Charter Church, United Free Church of Scotland, Upper Room Church

Scotland moves closer to tackling commercial sexual exploitation

Scotland moves closer to tackling commercial sexual exploitation

Let's support MSPs seeking to make online pimping illegal, and other crucial changes
Game for change

Game for change

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