Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Adopt Scandinavian sex exploitation laws

I would like to respond to the points raised by Dr Graham Ellison (Write Back, September 11) regarding Lord Morrow's Private Members Bill, Human Trafficking and Exploitation.

One of the most critical issues we must address in our fight against trafficking is how to tackle demand for the services of exploited persons. Lord Morrow has suggested following the model used in Sweden, which criminalised paying for sex while offering support and services to the seller of sex. There is, in fact, excellent evidence from Sweden which shows a significant reduction in demand (close to 50%) since the law was changed.

Perhaps even more significant is the evidence of the impact these laws have had on trafficking into Sweden. Wiretapped conversations between traffickers confirm that Sweden's zero-tolerance approach has made it a hostile environment for the 'business' of selling people in prostitution.

Passing a similar law in Northern Ireland is a practical step to reduce demand and turn the tide on trafficking for sexual exploitation. Criminalising paying for sex would also simplify the current law, which already criminalises paying for sex with someone who has been coerced. This offence has worked on a practical level in other jurisdictions. There is no reason to believe the PSNI would find it more challenging to prove that someone paid for sex than their counterparts in Scandinavia.


Human trafficking and exploitation officer

CARE, London

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