Church welcomes anti-sex trafficking legislation amendments

Scottish-Parliament
The Church of Scotland has joined other churches throughout the country to welcome today’s amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill which would make it an offence to pay for sexual services.

The Church of Scotland has joined other churches throughout the country to welcome today's amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill which would make it an offence to pay for sexual services.

Modern day slavery is being tackled by the Scottish Government through new legislation designed to enhance existing criminal law against trafficking and improve the status of and support for victims.

Rhoda Grant MSP has lodged amendments to the Bill to make it an offence to pay for sexual services and to provide support and assistance to those exiting the sex industry.

The Church of Scotland and members of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group welcome these amendments.

A spokesman for Scottish Churches said: "We understand that this is a complicated issue which requires careful thought, however, evidence clearly points to reduced demand for commercial sexual services after the introduction of similar laws in other countries. In Sweden, for example, there has been a corresponding fall in the number of women and girls trafficked for work in the sexual services industry.

"Conversely in countries, such as Germany where prostitution has been legalised, there is evidence that trafficking flows of people for purposes of sexual exploitation is markedly higher than in those countries whose legislative framework is more restrictive. In this context we are pleased that there will be an opportunity for members of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee to consider this important issue in the next few weeks.

"The Bill is intended to increase the chances of successful prosecutions in relation to human trafficking and to ensure better support for survivors of trafficking. However, we believe this legislation would be stronger if it also contained provisions to make it an offence to pay for sexual services. Human trafficking is a global business, it exists to make large profits for the traffickers, and the sale of sexual services by the victims of trafficking is a part of this business.

"We have consistently called for the Scottish Government to follow policies which have been agreed at a European level, including a vote by the European Parliament in 2014 which affirmed that criminalising the purchase of sexual services would be a way of 'combating the trafficking of women and under-age females for sexual exploitation and improving gender equality.'

"This April representatives of Scotland's faith communities met with Michael Matheson MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, to ask for the Bill to be amended, we hope that the Cabinet Secretary takes these amendments into consideration."