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11 September 2012

Modern Slavery

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MSP Rhoda Grant has just proposed the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill, aiming to ‘reduce the demand for prostitution’ in Scotland. The consultation has begun and will close on 14 December 2012.

There are currently several existing pieces of legislation that provide boundaries for the purchase of sex in Scotland. These legislative boundaries cover young people in prostitution, the running of brothels, drawing earnings from a prostitute, soliciting for sex and loitering for the purchase of sex. The bill however seeks to impact broader sexually driven criminal behaviour in Scotland, especially human trafficking.

Prostitution and human trafficking are two separate issues but they are inextricably linked. Where prostitution is permitted or tolerated human trafficking for sex follows. The proposed legislation essentially advocates for the ‘Swedish Model’ which criminalising the buyers of sex rather than the sellers. This law has had a significant impact in Sweden with some reports of a 50 per cent reduction in both on-street and off-street prostitution with the first year of implementation. According to Swedish Police, the ban on the purchase of sexual services acts as a barrier to human traffickers and procurers who are considering establishing themselves in Sweden.

Trafficking of human beings, made in the image of God, is clearly an injustice. Some of those involved in the sex ‘industry’ may not have physical chains but they are often still slaves to someone else’s lust. This is at the very least an opportunity to stop and examine how we treat sex workers and how we value sex, freedom, consent, human dignity, and relationship.

The Alliance welcomes this consultation on the morality and legality of buying sex. It prompts us to consider what lies behind the demand for sexual services. It’s unlikely that someone wakes up and simply decides to go out and buy some sex.  Sex has largely been detached from marriage and relationship and been turned it into a right, a commodity to be consumed. We must consider our response to a media-driven culture than normalises mainstream pornography as appropriate sexual behaviour, and with integrity pursue lives that demonstrate the value Jesus places in all people.

The Alliance in Scotland is working with anti-trafficking networks of charities and churches throughout the UK. One of these groups is Abolition Scotland, who are campaigning to see an end to modern day slavery. They are in the process of organising screenings of an award winning documentary highlighting the global sex trafficking market. The hard hitting Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is to be screened in every city and town across Scotland, to raise awareness and mobilise prayer and action. Please watch the trailer above and visit the Abolition Scotland website for more information.