Men paying for sex with women forced into prostitution could soon face prosecution in Britain under new government proposals. Under the law, paying for sex would remain legal, but not with a prostitute controlled by a pimp or a trafficker.
“Where women have been exploited, where they have been trafficked, if you pay for sex with a woman in those circumstances, that will be an offence, and I hope and believe that that will actually make men think twice about what they’re doing,” said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. “It will reduce the demand, which itself of course leads to the supply of women who’ve actually been trafficked and exploited.”
However, critics say the bill, which is aimed at curbing human trafficking, is counter-productive: “These proposed changes to the law will not make women safer and will not protect women from violence and exploitation,” says Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes.
“What they will in fact do is make it more dangerous for women to work, by forcing the sex industry underground. Women will find it harder to contact clients. The safer, more reliable clients will be scared away, and women will be put more at risk and will find it harder to come forward and report rape and other violence when it does happen.”
The sex trade is already heavily restricted in Britain, where it is unlawful to keep a brothel and illegal to sell sex on the streets, although soliciting is largely tolerated.