On Wednesday 19 June 2019 a Westminster Hall debate was held in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act. MPs highlighted that trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is currently taking place on an industrial scale in the UK, and women are disproportionately affected. The leaders of the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act announced they will undertake a follow-up inquiry to assess whether prostitution laws are undermining efforts to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation. Contributors to the debate included Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Sarah Champion MP, Carolyn Harris MP and Rt Hon Maria Miller MP.
On 16 and 17 May 2019 a cross-party group of parliamentarians and practitioners visited Sweden to learn about the country’s Sex Purchase Act. In adopting this legislation, Sweden became the first country in the world to tackle demand for sexual exploitation by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex and providing exiting support for those who have been sexually exploited. Evidence reveals that since Sweden adopted the Sex Purchase Act demand for prostitution has decreased, public attitudes towards paying for sex have significantly changed, and the country has become a less attractive destination for sex traffickers.
On 24 April 2018 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade welcomed Per-Anders Sunesson, Sweden’s Ambassador at Large for Combating Trafficking in Persons, to a Question and Answer session with MPs and peers wishing to find out more about Sweden’s Sex Purchase Act, which was introduced twenty years ago.
The Sex Purchase Act tackles demand for sex trafficking and prostitution by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex, and providing support and exiting services for people exploited through the sex trade. This legislative framework, also known as the ‘Sex Buyer Law’ or ‘Nordic model’, has since been adopted by France, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Israel. Canada has also adopted similar legislation. MPs and peers heard that since the law came into force, demand for buying sex and attitudes towards buying sex have changed considerably. Sweden is now considered a more hostile destination for sex traffickers.
On 16 October 2018 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade held its AGM in the House of Parliament. The following parliamentarians were elected as officers of the group for 2018-19: Fiona Bruce MP, Sarah Champion MP (Chair), Ronnie Cowan MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP, Carolyn Harris MP, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Jess Phillips MP and Gavin Shuker MP. The AGM minutes can be downloaded here.
On Wednesday 4 July 2018 a Westminster Hall debate was held in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the motion, ‘Tackling demand for commercial sexual exploitation’. MPs from the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Scottish National Party called on the Government to tackle demand for prostitution and sex trafficking by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex and providing exiting services for people exploited in the sex trade. Contributors to the debate included: Sarah Champion MP, Gavin Shuker MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Jim Shannon MP, Ronnie Cowan MP, Jess Phillips MP, Angela Crawley MP and Carolyn Harris MP.
On 13 September 2017 the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade held its AGM in the Houses of Parliament. Elections were held for the positions of officers of the group. The following parliamentarians were elected as officers of the APPG on Prostitution: Gavin Shuker MP (Chair), Fiona Bruce MP (Vice-Chair), Sarah Champion MP (Vice-Chair), Thangam Debbonaire MP (Vice-Chair), Jess Phillips MP (Vice-Chair), and Lord McColl of Dulwich (Secretary).