The Scottish Government considers prostitution to be violence against women so it must question why the industry’s victims are criminalised.
The punters, the pimps, the websites and the organised crime which profit from the sex trade are largely left to exploit prostituted women with impunity.
Most women don’t go into prostitution by choice – it is a question of survival and desperation.
For the majority, it is not empowering, not just a job like any other but a dehumanising and humiliating experience which leaves them with long-term physical and emotional scars.
Many sex workers are vulnerable – either coerced or pulled into the sex trade because they are poor or addicted.
They are desperate to leave commercial sexual exploitation but are hindered by their criminal convictions for soliciting.
A civilised society should not tolerate women being traded as commodities and helping women exit prostitution is crucial.
These women can only choose another life if they are supported and given opportunities to train and find other work.
An alliance of frontline support workers and survivors of the sex trade say that it is now time to decriminalise these women and wipe soliciting from the statute books, punishing the purchasers instead.
Women can’t access alternative work and training in professions like care or nursing with these convictions on their record.
It is for the Scottish Government to make up its mind if it believes these women are victims or criminals as campaigners insist, they can’t be both.
£20 cut so cruel
There is little doubt over how devastating the impact a cut to Universal Credit will have on some of society’s most vulnerable people.
Anti-poverty campaigners have clearly spelled out how thousands of folk will be pushed into poverty by the Tories’ determination to remove the £20-a-week uplift next month.
Even several high-profile Tory MPs have demanded that PM Boris Johnson thinks again.
Now Citizens Advice has revealed the scale of worry among its clients about the cut. Among those who claim the benefit, three-quarters believe they won’t be able to cope without the extra £20.
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It’s not too late for the UK Government to change course and commit to making the uplift permanent. In terms of political spending, the cost is a drop in the ocean.
Yet it would have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people in the UK.
Surely even Tory ministers must realise this.
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