The Prostitution Inquiry Interim Report MUST be Scrapped

scrap-the-report-protest

On 6 September 2016, Keith Vaz MP resigned from the UK Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), his reputation in tatters after being exposed as a sex buyer.

Over the previous months he presided over an inquiry into prostitution law reform, including whether to introduce a “sex buyer law” (also known as the Nordic Model) into the UK. This decriminalises those who are prostituted and provides services to help them exit, but also criminalises those who buy human beings for sex. As a sex buyer himself, Vaz therefore had a clear and undeclared conflict of interest.

99-percent

In the light of these revelations and the fact that 70% of the committee members are male, our analysis of the inquiry’s interim report does not surprise. The report blithely dismissed evidence of the harms of prostitution and evidence in favour of the Nordic Model. It also ignored evidence from exited women, and women’s organisations and individuals arguing for a Nordic Model approach. Instead it favoured a system of decriminalisation of all aspects of the sex trade, which would allow pimping, brothel keeping, ‘sex’ buying and procuring to operate unfettered, effectively decriminalising abuse.

70-percent

We therefore went to Westminster to demand that the inquiry be scrapped and reconvened under a new committee of which AT LEAST 50% of the members are female, some have a track record of tackling male violence against women and children, and all must make a declaration of any history of sex buying.

We started outside Portcullis House, where the HASC committee meet.

portcullis-house

We chanted, and we made a noise. To the tune of Build a bonfire, we sang:

Vaz the punter, Vaz the punter
Reputation’s on the floor
That report from his committee
Must be thrown out of the door

Vaz the punter, Vaz the punter
Reputation’s on the floor
Now we look at that committee
And we ask, How many more?

how-many-more

There was a big queue of people waiting to go into Portcullis House and lots of passers by. Many were interested and came over or stopped for a chat. We gave out hundreds of leaflets. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

When all the people queuing had gone into Portcullis House and the street had become quiet, we marched through the streets of Westminster, stopping outside the Red Lion pub where the pavement was packed with civil servants having an after-work drink.

In response to all the high profile male allies (like Jeremy Corbyn, Peter Tatchell and Ken Livingstone) who have insisted that Vaz’s sex buying is not a conflict of interest because it is a “private matter”, we chanted:

Megaphone: Prostitution

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Abuse of women

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Exploitation

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Human trafficking

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Modern slavery

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Inequality

Everyone: Not a private matter!

Megaphone: Prostitution

Everyone: Not a private matter!

We continued our march and stopped again outside the gates of Downing Street, where we chanted some more and were witnessed by senior cabinet members Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson as they came and went through the gates.

downing-street

Women’s bodies not for sale
Women’s bodies not for sale
Women’s bodies not for sale
And we won’t be for sale no more!

As we were walking back, we passed the memorial to the women’s war effort and we took another photo, with a bus driver stopping his packed bus until we were done.

women-war-memorial“As a former prostitute I am beyond dismayed and angered, not only to learn that the chair of the committee that published the recent report on prostitution laws is someone who, it seems, pays for sex, but that it should even be under question that this is a serious conflict of interest. The objectivity of the report should roundly be called in to question, not least because – as myself and others noted at the time – the Nordic Model, and the research in its favour, was so blithely dismissed. Not to mention the testimonies of other former prostitutes.

I have spent years seeing prostituted people suffer in the industry, and to have a man who pays for sex himself be the most powerful person in deciding the fate of these people is a disgrace, especially considering the potential the Nordic Model has for providing finance and services for those who wish to exit. Keith Vaz should most certainly not return to his post and the findings of the report should be re-examined. Further, as the vast majority of sex buyers are middle class men, it would stand to reason that any panel on prostitution should at the very least be equally comprised of men and women, and preferably chaired by a woman, in order to lessen the possibility of such a report being compromised in this manner again.” – Rae Story

Please support our demands

Our demands are:

  • The Interim Report MUST be SCRAPPED
  • A DECLARATION of any history of sex buying be made by all committee members
  • AT LEAST 50% of committee members must be FEMALE
  • The committee must include MPs with a track record of TACKLING MALE VIOLENCE against women

Please write to:

  • Prime Minister, Theresa May: mayt@parliament.uk
  • Home Secretary, Amber Rudd: amber.rudd.mp@parliament.uk
  • Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn: leader@labour.org.uk
  • Acting Chair of the HASC, Tim Loughton: loughtont@parliament.uk
  • Your MP: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

For a template letter, see Support our Demands! Write to your MP.

Read more

8 thoughts on “The Prostitution Inquiry Interim Report MUST be Scrapped

  1. Hi, well done for your protest!

    Just wanted to reiterate importance of writing to ALL the politicians listed – don’t think JC is a die-hard ally of Vaz actually other than they’re both in the same party.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your characterisation of the interim report is way off-beam. The select committee proposed the decriminalisation of those selling sex-that is the main thrust of the interim report-it made no judgement as to the merits of the Nordic model although it did not accept the conflation of prostitution and trafficking. This came as a surprise since the terms of reference of the committee were very loaded in favour of the Nordic model (a point made in many of the written submissions to the committee). It appears that the committee did pay attention to the submitted written evidence (the majority of which opposed the Nordic model)

    Like

  3. Anna,
    Yes I have read your critique of the report-but it appears you have not read the Home affairs select Committee report carefully.
    Let us take as an example your characterisation of bias in the section considering the “The sex buyer law” (Section 4 pgs 22-28) which you say “is perhaps the most disappointing of all”. You say as evidence for bias that “this section of the report quotes or refers to 17 people or organisations who are clearly ideologically opposed to the Nordic Model, three who support it and three who appear to be neutral, as shown in the following table.”
    In section 4 of the report references are numbered (69-99) and refer to submissions to the original enquiry (written and oral) and to other evidence the committee took note of. Some submissions are referred to more than once (eg. Two references 69,70 to the English extract of the Skarhead report SOU2010:49, refs 74-75 to SWOP, 78, 82&94 to End demand, 87,93 to the Sex work research hub), sometimes one reference number (eg 78) refers to two references (in this case the submissions by End Demand and the Nordic model information network ) and reference 79 to the APPG report on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, Shifting the Burden, March 2014; and APPG written evidence (PRO0158). You miss characterize ref 76 which is from Hansard which reports both David Forde (the justice minister of N. Ireland-and Lord Morrow who was instigator of the Sex buyer law in Northern Ireland (so I call that one each).Perhaps you read the evidence more carefully?
    So my evaluation is as follows (pro Nordic refs 69,70,71,72,76,78 (two refs)79 (two refs),80,81,82,94 plus Mika) anti Nordic (73,74,75,76, 83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,93,95,96,98,99) Neutral(,77,97). So that gives 14 pro Nordic and 19 anti-Nordic and three neutral.
    Given that in the written evidence submitted to the committee the score was Pro-Nordic 75, anti-Nordic 102 and 19 whose views could not be inferred from the submissions I don’t think a simplistic count of references that you did (and got wrong) is indication that the committee disregarded pro-Nordic evidence.
    Of course evidence should be weighed, not just counted but on this simple point I am afraid you cannot claim bias.

    Like

    1. It seems that you have not read our response clearly. In the section on the Sex Buyer Law, it was referring to the individuals and organisations mentioned by name in the text rather than to the footnote references.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s