rhodagrantRhoda Grant MSP, Scottish Labour’s Equalities Spokesperson, is in full support of new resources by the End Prostitution Now campaign which intends to shine a light on the harsh realities of prostitution.

 

I have lodged a motion today, Monday 22nd February, to highlight a podcast ‘Inside the Sex Industry’ which has been designed to give a woman in the sex industry a platform to speak about her experiences and also to challenge the demand for prostitution. The campaign includes three new resources produced by the End Prostitution Now (EPN) campaign, entitled ‘Inside the Sex Industry.’

The motion seeks to get a members debate on tackling prostitution before Parliament dissolves, as this issue has not been debated in full on the floor of the chamber, even though it recognised a form of gender based violence by the Scottish Government.

I support a ‘challenging demand’ approach to tackling prostitution, which requires Government to decriminalise the sale of sex acts, criminalise the buying of sex acts and provide support and exiting services for those exploited through prostitution.

The podcasts feature interviews with ‘Cassie’, a woman who has been involved in prostitution in Scotland since she was 17 years old, who talks about her experiences in Edinburgh saunas, in brothels and as an escort.

I am sponsoring an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament on 29th February 2016 entitled “Unmasked 2”. The above highlighted podcasts will be shown at this event.

The exhibition aims to raise awareness of the impact of prostitution on the lives of vulnerable women by presenting the real-life views and attitudes of men who prostitutes. It aims to challenge the assumption that prostitution is harmless.

It features two exhibits. Memoirs is a collection of three books which are filled with pages of prose using resource material from ‘Punternet’, a Trip-Advisor style website. Memoirs follows the ‘careers’ of 3 men who bought and continue to exploit women in prostitution. The books, which you access after putting on conservation gloves, contain prose which detail their views and their attitudes towards the women they meet.

‘Inside the Sex Industry’ will also be shown, presenting a stark juxtaposition between men who buy sex and women in prostitution, and invites the listener to think about who has choices, where power sits and challenges the notion that prostitution is a job like any other.

This is an issue that I have raised many times in the Scottish Parliament, but it has never been fully debated. I hope that my colleagues across all parties will recognise the importance of these resources in giving women involved in prostitution a platform to speak out and that they will support the End Prostitution Now Campaign. Too often this issue is swept under the carpet, but I hope this motion will help support efforts to make this issue a priority for the next Scottish Parliament.

The End Prostitution Now campaign believes that challenging the demand to buy sex is the only effective long term strategy to prevent the harm that prostitution can cause to individuals, families and communities. This must be accompanied by prevention and harm reduction work and support to help people find alternatives to prostitution.

The exhibition is part of the Audacious Women Festival and will be held in the Scottish Parliament from 12-6pm on 29th February 2016. This is a free event but places need to be booked.

If you wish to attend please contact me at rhoda.grant.msp@scottish.parliament.uk.