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Saturday 28 May 2016

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Prostitution debate is about opinion not fact

Published 21/10/2013

I WELCOME the fact that Lord Morrow's Assembly Bill has stimulated a debate about prostitution and human trafficking.

However, I find it troubling that anyone who dares to point out the complexity of the issue, such as Queen's University Belfast academic Dr Graham Ellison and PSNI detective chief superintendent Philip Marshall, are personally attacked and criticised for voicing their concerns.

I would argue that no one in this debate is "objective", or "neutral", and we don't have to be. But we do have to make our allegiances and our moral agendas transparent.

The Bill proposed by Lord Morrow, for example, is based on the ideologies of organisations and individuals like Swedish lawyer Gunilla Ekberg and Care, who believe that the experiences of millions of prostitutes across the world are exactly the same; whether they work on the streets, or in a fancy hotel, and whether they like living abroad, or were forced to do so in order to make a living.

In their view, all those women who get paid for sex are victims, have no choice, no agency and, crucially, no voice. And, while everyone is obviously entitled to their opinion, we have to call it what it is: that is an opinion – not an objective fact.


Visiting fellow, Queen's University Belfast

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