Today MP Diana Johnson will be putting forward “ten minute rule motion” in support of criminalising buyers of sex (known as the “Nordic Model”).
As an organisation with a long standing history of working with sexworkers, we know that criminalisation of clients makes it less safe for women to work as we have been told this repeatedly by women in Leeds, around the country and internationally, from listening to current and former sexworkers, both street-based and indoor. While sexworkers are not directly criminalised by the proposed change in law, their association with criminal activity increases stigma and forces their work to be more hidden with direct implications for safety.
In addition, where limited opportunities are available for generating income in the first place for many sexworkers, reducing their opportunities without offering substantial additional unconditional, non-judgmental long term support in place is unethical. In addition, while such laws might deter some clients from buying sex, those undeterred by law (and by default likely to present a greater risk to women) will continue to buy sex with reduced bargaining power and greater danger for women working.
Our own evidence of the harmful aspects of this approach is corroborated by research by institutions such as UNAIDS, STOP Aids, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. The above does not imply that we feel buyers of sex should not be prosecuted for crimes committed against sexworkers; we clearly welcome the prosecution of any client if there is evidence that they have committed a crime against a sexworker.
Basis stand in solidarity with sexworkers today to raise awareness of the potential harm this might cause sexwokers. We invite any MP or interested party to reach out and discuss the above in further detail with us. For more information about our work see our website including our list of publications and research.
Please support sexworkers and write to your MP to inform them of the harm such change in law can cause sexworkers and ask for their support in this.