Sex in saunas: 'Street girls have been driven into less safe areas'
Evening News Comment THE campaign to amend the Sexual Offences Scotland Bill to include a clause making it illegal to pay for sex is well intended, but on closer examination misguided.
While it may reek of double standards that a blind eye is effectively turned to those who seek sex in saunas, while kerb crawlers are prosecuted, such a move threatens to drive underground what is a relatively well-controlled sector of the sex trade.
Introducing Draconian laws to curb the supply and use of drugs has done nothing to stem the flow. In fact, Class A drugs like cocaine and heroin are more readily available today than ever despite record seizures and high-profile police operations against dealers.
And the industry is controlled by ever-more vicious criminals who make vast profits out of human misery.
Through areas like human trafficking, criminal elements are already involved in the seedier side of the sex industry, but by and large in Scotland few are forced into the industry by anything other than the need to earn a living.
It may be unsavoury to most but is it not better to at least let them ply their trade behind closed doors in saunas where both the girls and customers can engage in relative safety, rather than driving both out of sight?
There is no evidence that the introduction of the kerb-crawling laws has done anything to curb the trade in Edinburgh. While 30 men have been arrested in the past year, it has merely driven girls from their traditional haunts into less safe areas and into flats.
It would be naive to think these figures give a true reflection of the level of activity which still goes on and those caught surely only represent the tip of what is still a sizeable iceberg.
Since the kerb-crawling law was introduced last year, the mobile phone rather than the car has become the point of contact and the absence of a safety-in-numbers strategy has led to an increase in violence against the girls.
Since the trade was driven into the shadows, attacks reported to Scotpep have almost doubled from 66 in June 2006 to 126 last year. There have been 55 assaults and 17 rapes and sexual assaults.
Prostitution is accorded the accolade of being the world's oldest profession. It has always been part of society and always will be. For as long as there are customers willing to pay for sex, the girls will be in business. Any attempt to pass a law making it illegal to pay for sex, however well intentioned, would only create more problems than it could ever be expected to solve.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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