One insideMAN reader, Chris Woodward, shares a letter that he wrote to his MP about proposals to bring the “Nordic model” of policing prostitution to the UK.
—This is article #58 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
I am writing to you not only as one of your constituents but also in
regards to your membership of the All Party Parliamentary Group on
Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade and the proposals your group is
putting forward, as discussed in the ‘Shifting the Burdon’ report,
which I have read.
Firstly, I wish to say that any group or individual that works to put
an end to all forced prostitution and trafficking, and provides a voice
for voiceless victims of prostitution, deserves credit for such
efforts. Every human being has a right to be treated with dignity and
those who jeopardise an individual’s wellbeing need to be stopped.
However, I am very aware that the proposals your group are advocating
are based upon the Nordic approach to Prostitution, as adopted in
Sweden since 1999. I have great concerns about this model coming into
Britain for a number of different reasons. In fact the more I read
about this model, the more opposed to it I have become. I wish to
explain my issues with the proposals and ask a few questions.
The Nordic model is anti-male
First of all, the Nordic approach is basically anti-male. By
criminalising the male buyer of sex services, and decriminalising the
female seller, it re-enforces the stereotype that men are the bad guys.
I would suspect if this was the other way round, and the female buyer
was the one being criminalised, the well organised feminist lobby would
be up in arms against it.
Secondly, the Nordic approach, whilst seeking to end trafficking and
violence towards prostituted women, imposes a blanket ban upon all
consensual prostitution, and impinges upon the activities of the
regular, law abiding, non-violent clients of sex workers by
criminalising them. The Nordic approach fails to make the distinction
between consensual and non-consensual prostitution, and in doing so
impinges upon the freedoms of individuals who have nothing to do with
trafficking, and should therefore not have the burden placed upon them.
While it may be true that a high percentage of sex workers in this
country are trafficked into it, this is certainly not true of everyone
in prostitution. Some sex workers actually choose to become prostitutes
because for them it is worth the money. Regardless of how repugnant or
disapproving this may be, there is absolutely no reason why the state
should intervene in such cases with the choices of such women and the
men who wish to purchase sex from consenting women.
Men with disabilities hire sex workers
Indeed some male clients of prostitutes, far from being violent, are
actually men with disabilities who may hire a sex worker because they
otherwise struggle to develop romantic relationships, and are merely
seeking out the human contact that a sex worker can offer. We may not
like their choices, but such men should never have their freedom to
choose to hire a prostitute encroached upon by the state, all because
‘some’ of the other prostitutes out there have been trafficked, and
‘some’ other men are guilty of trafficking, raping and violence towards
I therefore request that you raise the issues I have discussed here to
the All Party Parliamentary Group, and that instead of trying to combat
trafficking with a blanket ban, that your group discusses proposals
that specifically and only target the perpetrators or trafficking and
violence and NOT every man that hires a prostitute. Such measures among
many could include tighter controls and checks at borders, and
introducing measures such as tougher aggravated trafficking offenses. I
am not suggesting I have all the answers but there is no doubt that the
modern slavery of sex trafficking can be stopped without interfering
with consenting prostitutes and clients.
I have two specific questions I wish to ask regarding your group’s
Firstly, if your proposals come into law, will you also make it illegal
for female sex buyers to seek out male prostitutes?
Secondly, and this is a more a why question. In seeking to end
trafficking and violence, why does your group not propose an approach
that specifically targets the traffickers and combats the violent
elements of prostitution, without impacting the freedoms currently
enjoyed by ordinary men who may wish to purchase sex?
I know you may argue, as Lord Morrow did in a TV debate in Northern
Irelandwith figures about how prostitution has decreased in Sweden, and
that what worked in Sweden will work will work in the UK and it’s the ‘best’
way of tackling sex trafficking. It is regrettable that throughout the debate
Lord Morrow would not even acknowledge the effects his proposals in
Northern Ireland would have on consenting adults who wish to exchange
sex for money, and failed at any point to explain why he couldn’t come
up with an alternative approach to target only the traffickers without
interfering with all consensual prostitution.
I look forward to hearing from you, and very much hope you will answer
my questions and reconsider the proposals your group is putting forward
so that it targets only the perpetrators of trafficking and violence
and no one else.
—Picture credit: Kevin Shine
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.