Last December, the Minister for Justice launched the new principles that will underpin a new framework for prostitution.
These principles were developed as a result of the Scottish Government consultation on commercial sexual exploitation held in 2020, which highlighted strong divides around legislation and approaches, as well as areas of consensus around the harms of CSE, that women needed other choices and alternatives and that wider socio economic factors were key drivers into exploitation.
These principles set out the need for:
You can read more about the principles here. In this blog, the Scottish Government writes about their vision for the principles and next steps to develop a framework around prostitution.
The Scottish Government has a Programme for Government commitment to challenge men’s demand for prostitution. This is being progressed through the development of a Framework to challenge men’s demand for prostitution and support those with experience of it.
The developing Framework recognises that prostitution cannot be considered in isolation and therefore its development has relevance to other forms of CSE, recognising the links to wider forms of violence against women and girls, and forms part of a series of policy actions that are being taken to tackle misogynistic behaviours in society.
Work is progressing well, and principles developed with stakeholders, to underpin the Framework were published in December and have been adopted across the Scottish Government. Going forward we will look to have them incorporated within the planned Equally Safe Refresh.
The principles highlight that in addition to the crucial aim of challenging and deterring men’s demand, it is it is equally important that we develop a collective approach to tackling the structural inequalities that can lead to women and girls becoming at risk of sexual exploitation. The principles need the engagement of the full range of interests across Scottish life and it is therefore expected that the principles will inform relevant policy and practice across government, the wider public and third sector – in turn supporting Scotland’s collective approach to tackling CSE. It is only by working together we will successfully challenge men’s demand and tackle the attitudes and factors which drive this, whilst supporting those affected.
The principles were also informed by lived experience engagement, carried out by an independent researcher, which highlighted the need for a joined-up multi-agency approach to supporting those with experience of selling/exchanging sex – illustrated by the fact that those taking part in the research had on average 7 different support needs, often with individuals having to retell their story on multiple occasions when interacting with mainstream services.
The key focus throughout 2023 will be to use the principles to define the components parts of a Framework that will provide a sustainable pathway to enable women to move away from prostitution and at the same time challenge men’s demand. As with the development of the principles, we will continue to work with stakeholders as that work progresses.
The Scottish Government funds a range of services which support those with experience of CSE, which includes projects with a specific focus on supporting those with CSE and raising awareness of it, through the Delivering Equally Safe (DES) Fund.
These DES funded projects (which include CSE Aware) are helping to ensure the principles’ aims are realised. A progress report on the CSE focussed DES projects was published this month and offers further information about the projects – which during the reporting period delivered support to 283 people, and helped to raise awareness amongst over 900 staff across the public and third sector.
The DES funded work that Sacro delivers, working with Fedcap, regarding employability support is helping to realise the principle’s aim to ensure that all adults with experience of prostitution can access emotional and practical trauma informed support, at any stage, and that there’s consistent support when ready and preparing to exit. The Minister for Community Safety’s recent visit to hear more about the project, made clear that ensuring lived experience is at the heart of the developing Framework is key.