Closing date: Thursday, 10 December 2020

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8 – 9

Equally Safe,a consultation on challenging men’s demand for prostitution, working to reduce the harms associated with prostitution, and helping women to exit, has been brought forward as part of the Scottish Government’s desire to tackle violence against women and girls. 

Recognising prostitution as a form of violence against women, the Scottish Government is seeking views on changing the law to reflect this. The consultation proposes a multi-pronged approach to tackling demand, including education on what makes a healthy relationship, adjustments in law to persecute the buyer and not the individual seller, and a bid to understand what the community can do better to support women and children both active in and seeking to leave prostitution. 

The prosecution of the purchase of sex rather than the sale is commonly known as the Nordic model’. Already adopted by countries such as Sweden, France, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the desired outcomes of this approach are that: 

  1. By tackling demand there will be a drop in supply, making Scotland an unattractive option for traffickers (who often supply women and children to meet demand).
  2. A clear message will be sent to those who currently buy sex from vulnerable people that this is not acceptable.
  3. The burden falling on the buyer will enable those trapped in prostitution to exit safely, without fear of arrest.

He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So, the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.” Job 5:15 – 16

At the Evangelical Alliance we would agree that commercial sexual exploitation is a form of violence against women and girls and that the Nordic model provides a better solution to this than our current laws. 

As Christians we believe that all of us were made in the image of God with inherent human dignity. Everyone in society should experience an environment where they are loved and respected, not treated as a commodity that can be preyed upon when vulnerable. 

But sadly, that isn’t the experience of many women and children in Scotland today. Commercial sexual exploitation literally treats people as commodities, making sex a transaction, and creates an environment that promotes coercion and trafficking. More than two thirds of women are trafficked to Scotland solely for the purpose of sexual exploitation (Equally safe consultation table2.1).

The reality for those trapped in prostitution is that they are not only vulnerable but voiceless, stuck in cycles of abuse and poverty and not having the means to speak out and ask for help. Responding to this consultation is one of many ways we as Christians can speak up and take action, making it clear that it is unacceptable to buy access to vulnerable people for unwanted sex.

Responding to the consultation

The consultation will close on Thursday, 10 December. The Evangelical Alliance will respond and we would encourage our members and the wider Christian community to respond while it is still open. 

There are nine questions in total, but you don’t need to answer them all. If possible, we would encourage you to answer questions 1, 3, 4 and 7. Please see the drop box below for a few key points on the relevant questions. Our friends and member organisation, CARE for Scotland, has also produced an excellent briefing which we would highly recommend. Further briefings can be found below.

As always, please use your own words to highlight your concerns. 

You’ll need to respond directly on the consultation webpage.

Further reading

Prayer

Lord, we lift up this consultation and all those whose lives it will impact. May you use it as an instrument of healing and peace in a broken and hurting area of our society. Would you stir the hearts of many in this nation to speak up for the voiceless as you have commanded us to, giving us the words to respond with wisdom and clarity and firmly rooted in your love. Amen