Women for Sale?
Hilton Grosvenor Hotel, 1-9 Grosvenor Terrace, Glasgow G12 0TA.
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September 3, 2016, 10.00 – 14.30
Hilton Grosvenor Hotel, Glasgow
Does a women wake up in the morning and choose to sell her body? Or is she forced?
This conference was organised to look at the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.
Recently the dialogue around this subject has been moving towards one of sex work as a choice for women. But does a woman wake up in the morning and choose to sell her body? Does she think 'oh this is a good career choice'? For most women this is not the case.
As an organisation, it is the Scottish Women's Convention's position that prostitution is a form of violence against women and is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality with women being subjected to exploitation on a daily basis.
What about women who are trafficked, kept as slaves, forced to have sex with whoever their 'pimp' decides? They lose their self-esteem, their confidence, often their families. They are in a spiral of alcohol and drug dependency and see no way out.
These women need support, not punishment. Conviction for prostitution is often penalised with a fine. But the women have no money of their own to pay the fine so resort back to prostitution.
What about the men in all of this? After all they're the ones who 'pay' for sex with women. Is it not time that they are held to account? The current legislation criminalises women. But if men did not 'purchase' sex, then there would be no demand and, therefore, no trade in prostitution.
In Scotland, prostitution is a huge issue. With austerity measure and benefit cuts, women are turning to prostitution as a way to survive and feed their families. Is this how we want our country to be?
The Scottish Government, over the past few years, has introduced legislation around street prostitution, harrassment and operating a brothel. However, the exchange of sexual services for money remains legal.
We need some form of leadership and commitment from the Scottish Government to recognise that women are the victims in prostitution and should not be punished. We need to recognise the complex and chaotic lives which women in prostitution often lead. They need support and guidance from health professionals, the voluntary sector and police forces to escape this cycle of abuse.
Young women are often seen as 'easy targets' for those exploiting the sex trade. They are exposed to highly sexualised images in the media (including social media) from an early age. These images, often by 'celebrity / role model' figures, support the idea that being sexually active is ok.
But this causes harm and supports the idea that women are sexual toys to be objectified by men. The Scottish Women's Convention has launched a booklet entitled - A Guide on Images of Violence Against Women in the Media. This booklet aims to show how highly sexualised everyday adverts and newspaper articles are. Some of it may shock.
The speakers at the conference all had experience of research in the sex trade and told their stories of how they see the future with regards to women in prostitution. They were:
Kat Banyard (Author 'Pimp State')
Rhoda Grant MSP,
Trish Godman (former Presiding Officer at the Scottish Parliament) and
Linda Thompson (Women’s Support Project)
There was also a question and answer session held with the panel before breaking into facilitated round table discussions. The information gathered by our facilitators and note takers will be used to lobby key decision makers to make sure that women in prostitution are protected and supported. They need our help.
A report will be available soon.
Telephone: 0141 339 4797
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