Last week I was invited onto the panel of the BBC World Service programme World Have Your Say. We discussed new legislation passed in the French Parliament just the previous day which criminalises paying for sex. In other words the responsibility for the act rests with the purchaser rather than the seller of sex-what is more commonly known as the Nordic model of prostitution.
A number of guests were invited to contribute from all areas of the world and I explained why I welcome what’s happened in France. We can use evidence from Sweden, the first country in Europe to criminalise the buyer, and since then statistics show that street prostitution has declined by 11%.
Relations with police in Sweden are reportedly very good, safety of prostitutes is a priority and there is a high level of protection as a result. There are also exit programmes in place for those seeking to leave prostitution, which the legislation in France will also include.
The discussion on Friday included views from across the world where there protection of prostitutes varies hugely from country to country. However, one area all sides couldn’t agree on was the issue of rates of trafficking.
The European Union has carried out a lot of research in the area of trafficking, and official statistics from the EU state that approximately 85% of prostitutes are victims of trafficking. However, the reality is that we do not yet know the true extent of trafficking or how far and wide it reaches. These are some for the most vulnerable women and they do need to be protected by all those who can and should be helping them.
You can listen to my interview here. It’s in two parts, just follow each of the links.