Plans to effectively decriminalise prostitution in Scotland have been slammed by anti-trafficking campaigners who say it will “empower pimps and brothel owners.”
The Highland MSP Jean Urquhart has launched a consultation which would see a New-Zealand style approach implemented which allows brothels and kerb-crawling.
But CARE for Scotland said it would send the wrong message to victims and those who find themselves in prostitution because of abuse or trafficking.
It is calling on the Scottish Government to criminalise the purchase of sex, a method which it says helped reduce trafficking levels in Nordic countries.
CARE for Scotland Parliamentary Officer Dr Gordon Macdonald said: “This new consultation effectively amounts to the decriminalisation of prostitution and not only is this deeply misguided it also represents entirely the wrong approach.
“This consultation is wrong in principle and would be a disaster in practise.
“It is utterly contradictory when the Scottish Government is about to bring in new anti-trafficking laws to then call for the decriminalisation of prostitution which will only empower pimps and brothel owners.”
The charity has already urged MSPs to consider Northern Ireland’s trafficking laws, where the purchase of sexual services is banned, as a template for Scotland to follow.
“If you look at major reports from the European Parliament, it is clear the evidence favours banning the purchase of sexual services as an effective means of lowering trafficking levels,” Mr Macdonald added.
“We have an opportunity to introduce anti-trafficking laws that will empower victims and help deal with the scourge of human trafficking yet these laws will be completely undermined if the measures suggested by this consultation are ever introduced.”