This is a slightly edited version of the email I sent to Jeremy Corbyn on Friday, 4th March, in response to the report that he supports the full decriminalisation of the sex industry. If you also want to write to Jeremy about this issue, the email address is email@example.com.
Dear Jeremy Corbyn
I support what you are doing in many ways, so I was devastated to learn in the Guardian today that you support the full decriminalisation of the sex industry. You are reported as saying, “I am in favour of decriminalising the sex industry. I don’t want people to be criminalised. I want to be [in] a society where we don’t automatically criminalise people. Let’s do things a bit differently and in a bit more civilised way.”
Does this mean that you think murderers should not be criminalised? What about rapists? What about people who smoke in pubs?
Is the law not primarily about sending out a message about what we as a society believe is acceptable?
I fully agree that all those in prostitution should be decriminalised. And in fact I would go further than that and argue that their criminal records should be wiped clean of any convictions for their own prostitution.
But I disagree that pimps, traffickers and punters should be decriminalised.
Prostitution causes untold harm and misery to those trapped in it. I recommend Rachel Moran’s book, Paid For, My Journey Through Prostitution, for a first person account of its realities. Prostitution also negatively affects the status and well being of all women and children and is incompatible with equality between the sexes.
These harms are caused by the men who buy those in prostitution and the pimps and traffickers who control and profit from it.
We need to make it clear that buying another human being for sex is not something that is consistent with a civilised society. The easiest way to do this is the same way we make it clear that murder is not acceptable and that smoking in pubs is not acceptable: by making it a criminal offence. This would not automatically criminalise anyone. Just like the law against murder does not criminalise people who refrain from murder.
I believe that if we want a truly civilised society, we must implement the Nordic Model (also known as the Sex Buyer’s Law). For more on this approach, please see: Prostitution – Time for a New Paradigm.