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This week TTRP are delighted to have Dr. Graham Ellison as a guest contributor. Dr. Ellison is a Reader in Criminology in the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. He is currently principal investigator on a project funded by the British Academy investigating the policing and regulation of prostitution in four European cities (with Prof Ron Weitzer and Dr Susan Dodillet).
Commercial sex – “prostitution”, or in the United Nations’ preferred terminology “sex work” – has once again been thrust into the spotlight in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill, which has attracted intense publicity, including a recent BBC documentary. Now in its second reading in the NI Assembly, the Bill includes a raft of provisions to support victims of human trafficking. The main focus of attention is Clause 6, which, for the first time in the jurisdiction, would make it a criminal offence to pay for sex. Drawing on the claimed “successes” of the so-called Swedish or Nordic model, the rationale is that this will reduce “demand” and that trafficking into the commercial sex industry will be seriously impaired. However, Northern Ireland already has fairly robust penalties in place to deal with sex trafficking. Since 2009 it has been an offence (punishable by a long jail term) to knowingly procure sexual services from a trafficked victim, while existing law rightfully prohibits any sexual activity with someone who is underage or otherwise vulnerable (as defined in the legislation).
Lord Morrow’s Bill has come under fire from academics (myself included), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), civil society, the NI Department of Justice and sex worker rights organisations, which all raise rather different criticisms of the proposal. My view, as a criminologist, is that the proposed law conflates two very different issues (prostitution and trafficking), is premised on a particularly narrow abolitionist view of sex work, grossly overestimates the extent of “demand” in Northern Ireland, and is out of line with policy developments occurring elsewhere in the United Kingdom and indeed continental Europe. (more…)
This week TTRP are pleased to present a jointly authored post with SWEAT – a sex workers rights organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. SWEAT works to ensure that sex workers’ rights are defended, that sex workers have access to health and other services and that sex workers are respected and valued members of society. The organisation takes a rights-based approach to its work and has three central programs: Advocacy and Human Rights Defence; Outreach and Development; and Research and Knowledge Management. Their goals are to: advocate for the decriminalisation of adult sex work in South Africa; to address health and human rights abuses with sex workers; and to support the development of self-representation of sex workers on a national and continental level in issues affecting them.
TTRP and our blog guests have previously highlighted difficulties within the anti-trafficking movement, and the NGO sector more broadly, of collaboration. This lack of collaboration between stakeholders is a chorus repeated ad nauseum, but, often overlooked, are the less public, daily exchanges that take place between groups that create space for opportunity and constructive engagement. (more…)
The idea of adolescents working in the sex industry is not socially or politically palatable. In fact, under international law, prostitution is considered to be a form of severe exploitation for any individual under the age of 18 and constitutes one definition of child trafficking that does not necessitate the use of force, deception or coercion. There is widespread agreement that children should not participate in any form of sex work. As a result, older adolescents, those aged 16 and 17 who undertake sex work, usually fall into a policy black hole in which they lack access to much-needed services. This can be further compounded by instances in which an individual may work in an illegal industry (where sex work is illegal) and/or commit employment offenses (due to migration or age). (more…)
Last week, TTRP made a submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.
An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) occupies a strategic and effective position within the Parliamentary system. An APPG is cross-party, with a minimum number of Parliamentarians from Government and the official opposition, and cross-House, made up of both peers and MPs. These groups are not funded by Parliament. APPGs do not have any powers to compel witnesses or submissions. Groups can have a number of staffing options – some have no dedicated staff, others utilise external consultants with specialist skills and some, like the APPG on Prostitution, have their secretariat functions performed by external NGOs. In this case Care, a Christian NGO, which declares itself to be:
… a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives. CARE demonstrates Christ’s compassion to people of all faiths and none believing that individuals are of immense value, not because of the circumstances of their birth, their behaviour or achievements, but because of their intrinsic worth as people. CARE is represented in the UK Parliaments and Assemblies, at the EU in Brussels and the UN in Geneva and New York.
The APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade has a website, though it contains limited information about the Group’s work. The purpose of the Group, as set out in the Register, is to:
raise awareness of the impact of the sale of sexual services on those involved and to develop proposals for government action to tackle individuals who create demand for sexual services as well as those who control prostitutes; to protect prostituted women by helping them to exit prostitution and to prevent girls from entering prostitution.
Gavin Shuker (Lab) is Chair; Claire Perry (Con) is Treasurer and; Fiona McTaggart (Lab) is Secretary.
The inquiry took the form of an online questionnaire, though the background to the inquiry and the questions asked can be found here.
Our full response can be accessed here.
As the end of 2012 approaches we decided to conduct an informal assessment of human trafficking-related issues in Singapore.
Aside from the National Plan of Action, the big policy deal this year was the consultation and subsequent enactment of the Amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), which took effect on 9th November. This legislation enhances the Ministry of Manpower’s ability to investigate and enforce employment practices, and creates harsher penalties and new offences to address employment abuses. For instance, kickbacks, payments made to an employer by a worker in return for a job, are now a criminal offense, as are illegally importing and supplying foreign labor (involving routes outside the existing work permit scheme) and illegally recovering employment costs from foreign workers. The latter would include, for example, deducting the cost of health insurance from an employee, whereas this should be provided by the employer. (more…)