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Parliamentary pop-up brothel findings are ‘shoddy’, say sex workers

English Collective of Prostitutes challenge politicians' view that paying for sex must be criminalised to 'end demand from buyers'

28 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

A demonstration held outside the House of Commons last year that called for an end to violence against sex workers

FINDINGS from an inquiry investigating pop-up brothels have been blasted as “shoddy” by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP).

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution has said it is “vital” that paying for sex is criminalised to “end demand from buyers”.

But ECP spokeswoman Cari Mitchell said criminalisation, whether of sex workers or clients, drives prostitution further underground, increasing stigma, discrimination and the risk of violence.” She listed examples of prostitutes having to go to isolated spots with a customer because “they are afraid”.

Ms Mitchell added: “Blaming the internet for a prostitution ‘boom’ puts the APPG in the same camp as Iain Duncan Smith, who notably attributed the increase in people going to food banks on growing ‘awareness’ of food banks.

“If the APPG is truly interested in reducing prostitution, why isn’t their headline recommendation the abolition of benefit sanctions, directly linked with the rise in prostitution, especially on the street?”

The ECP, which wants the industry completely decriminalised, said the report was “shoddy” and demanded an apology for its including “fabricated statistics” that 80 per cent of sex workers are victims of trafficking.

The report said a study of 6,000 men found that 3.6 per cent had paid for sex in the past five years.

Detective Constable Julie Currie, from the Met police’s modern slavery and kidnap unit, told the inquiry: “In the vast majority of cases, males paying for sex will give no thought to where the woman has come from or what circumstances have led her into prostitution.”

The report said that France, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland had criminalised paying for sex “and decriminalised selling sex in order to tackle demand from sex buyers”.

A recent study of Sweden found 0.8 per cent of men had paid for sex in the past year. This was seen as evidence by the committee that criminalisation of sex buyers was working.

The APPG report concluded: “Ending organised sexual exploitation requires ending the demand from sex buyers. To stop the UK being a profitable and low-risk environment for sex traffickers it is vital that the government criminalises paying for sex.”

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