The real abolitionists: no criminalisation
If there is one group that embodies more than anybody else the vision of Josephine Butler, the founding mother of abolitionism, it is the Josephine Butler Society.
Here is what they say about the "Nordic model":
Discussions in Nothern Ireland and Scotland
In the Northern Ireland and Scottish Parliaments there are moves afoot to criminalise the buyer of sexual services as Sweden did in 1999. It is under discussion in Nothern Ireland, Scotland and the European Women's Lobby.
However, Josephine Butler said that what went on in the bedroom of consenting adults was no concern of hers, and we at JBS, the successor to the Ladies Association which she began in 1870, agree with these wise words.
We believe that what must be challenged are the conditions which lead to people into prostitution. This may be through poverty, addiction, lack of education, control or coercion by others, and in this we would include how women are portrayed by the media and internet and the lack of education in mutual respect between the sexes.
Our views are thus:
1. Criminalising the buyer will make men, who are otherwise law abiding, into criminals. This could well result in their wives and children being victimised too, possibly even risking family break down with all the social problems that can lead to.
2. The Swedish Law, which criminalises the buyer, has been criticised by a Swedish Liberal MP, Camilla Lindberg, as being ineffective. She, rightly in our opinion, suggests that it is not all prostitution that should be the target, drawing a distinction between the voluntary selling of sexual services, and the enforced selling of sex by trafficked women, and therefore recommends that combating trafficking should be the aim.
3. The Law in the UK already criminalises paying for sex with a child or adult exploited for this purpose (Police and Crime Act 2009), but it takes proactive policing to find this type of activity and this is expensive. However, it does bring the possibility of confiscation monies for the police.
4. We suggest that more and better immigration control at all UK points of entry, and also abroad especially in countries of origin and transit, by those specially trained to seek out trafficked children and adults, would be a better way to stop trafficking. It would then be a preventative measure instead of one of rehabilitation and possible deportation, actions which are expensive.
5. Criminalising the buyer will ignore the real criminals, who are traffickers, coercers and enslavers who control their victims and benefit from their earnings. The proposal is targeting the wrong people because, like the prostituting of women in the past, the buyer is an easier target than the trafficker/enslaver. The present UK Law makes successful prosecution problematic, as the prosecution has to prove ‘intent’ and ‘belief’, regrettably both of which are difficult to prove and together, make it almost impossible.
6. For the real criminals the proposed interruptions of their business will push prostitution further underground and the vulnerable will be harder to reach by agencies engaged in helping and encouraging exiting from prostitution and lifestyle changes.
Therefore our position is that to criminalise the non-violent, non-coercive buyer is to criminalise the wrong person. Sadly, it is often the case that the Law, when it attempts to help in the problems around prostitution, often impinges elsewhere where criminal activity can be completely absent, i.e. the freely prostituting woman (or man), whose clients are ‘friends’. So more police doing proactive work to expose the criminal networks of traffickers, enslavers and coercers would be our recommendation.
To conclude we are definitely not in favour of criminalisation of all men who buy sexual services. Where consenting adults are concerned this is surely their own business. Josephine Butler clearly believed that we have God given free will and as adults should make our own decisions without the Law being involved. Surely equality includes freedom of choice for men and women. But abuse of children or trafficking of the unwilling is wrong.
Josephine Butler is very wise. I agree with all these points. The powers of confiscation by the police scares the hell out of me. This is just another tax in my opinion. Confiscate your car and impose excessive fines under the pretext of trying to stop crime when it is really about raising funds and income redistribution so the politico can buy more votes. This was a good read.