Anti-trafficking campaigners have called on the Scottish government to strengthen its Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, by making it a criminal offence to pay for sexual services.
At a meeting in March, Lord Morrow, the peer behind the creation of Northern Ireland’s Human Trafficking Act, gave a speech to MSPs and elected officials and urged them to consider criminalising the purchase of sexual services in Scotland.
Since then, his calls have been backed by parties such as Councillor James Coleman, chairman of the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, and by Professor Hazel Watson, convenor of the Scottish Churches anti-Human Trafficking Group.
Mr Coleman said, ‘Key to reducing the harm caused by prostitution is to cut the demand for paid-for sex’.
Ms Watson said, ‘Lord Morrow’s contribution to the debate here in Scotland over how best to deal with the scourge of modern-day trafficking are timely. It would be hugely unfortunate if this opportunity to ban paying for sex here in Scotland was missed, as the evidence shows how effective such a move can be to reduce levels of trafficking’.
The calls were also backed by charity CARE. A CARE for Scotland spokesman said, ‘The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates demand for sex is one of the principal drivers behind the horror of modern-day trafficking. Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill is a template for Scotland to use, and we would do well to learn from it’.