A harmful trade

Rhoda Grant MSP emphasises coercion in her case for criminalising the buying of sex (your report, 12 June), but there are also many other reasons to support her bill.

Working as a prostitute involves routinely disconnecting the physical aspect of sex with the emotional element. This dissociation is stressful and interferes with the ability to form stable, intimate relationships.

Research has also repeatedly exposed the fact that prostitutes often report feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred and guilt. They are prone to depression, insomnia, flashbacks, multiple personality disorder, self-harm and suicide attempts, as well as the physical health risks.

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Incidences of violence and abuse are commonly reported by many prostitutes, and working as a prostitute generally exacerbates and compounds existing problems. Many prostitutes rely on tranquillisers, and become drug addicts.

The emotional and psychological effects cannot be adequately controlled by harm-reduction measures as they are consequences of the inherent nature of sex work. Statistics vary for indoor and outdoor prostitutes, with street workers generally worse affected, but the picture is far from rosy in any sector.

Sex workers’ advocates claim that many of these negative consequences are somehow the product of illegality, but experiences in areas where prostitution is fully legalised indicate that the problems remain.

Citing anecdotes of happy and healthy prostitutes as counter evidence is as intellectually rigorous as denying the risks of smoking by referring to Uncle Jack who smoked 60 a day and got run over by a bus when he was 97.

Richard Lucas