Statement on the RCN’s support for the full decriminalisation of the sex trade

Nordic Model Now! is deeply shocked that yesterday, 20 May 2019, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress voted overwhelmingly for a motion that requires the RCN Council to lobby Governments across the UK for the “decriminalisation of prostitution.”

Our co-founder, Ellen Grogan, who is a member of the RCN, attended the Congress and put forward an amendment calling for the RCN Council to lobby only for the repeal of all laws that target those selling sexual services and to provide them with high-quality services that include routes out and genuine alternatives.

However, the Agenda committee refused to allow the amendment on the basis that it changed the nature of the motion rather than amending it.

The debate was less than 30 minutes and was very one-sided and ill-informed. Ellen spoke against the motion but was only allowed to speak for two minutes and there was only one other speaker who was unequivocally against the motion, but like Ellen, she also had a very short time slot.

Supporters of the Nordic Model gave out hundreds of flyers outside the conference centre on Sunday. From the conversations they had, it was clear that many delegates were ill informed about what the motion actually meant in practice – the decriminalisation of the entire sex trade, including third-party profiteers and brothel keepers, that it would enshrine men’s ‘right’ to buy sex in law, and would inevitably lead to a large increase in the size of the sex industry and the numbers of vulnerable women and girls being drawn into it.

One of the volunteers said, “Most of the nurses we talked to were really shocked when they found out that the motion would mean the RCN lobbying for pimps and brothels to be legal and they were supportive of the Nordic Model when we explained it to them, so it’s a real shame that Ellen’s amendment was not allowed to be discussed.”

We hope that the RCN will have the intelligence and courage to realise that it has made a massive mistake and return to the drawing board.

Read more about why we think it is a mistake:

2 thoughts on “Statement on the RCN’s support for the full decriminalisation of the sex trade

  1. The RCN voted in favour of full decriminalisation in light of the consistent increases of violence experienced by sex workers following the Nordic Model being instated in countries such as France and Northern Ireland. The RCN reflects the need for sex workers to have more access to safety and health services, and that the model of full decriminalization is demonstrably the best way to enable and empower them to do so without increasing exposure to violence. It’s such a shame that so many women need to be victimised under the Nordic Model in order for the statistics to show that it doesn’t work, instead of policy makers simply listening to what they have been saying all along: Nordic Model kills.

    Please put your energy towards meaningfully helping sex workers instead of silencing, dehumanising and damaging them. Or just go away. We are all on the same side and as enemies the patriarchy, capitalism and ingrained sexism. But if your feminism depends on throwing vulnerable people under the bus in order to make yourself feel good you’re not a feminist.

    You’re a bully.


    1. We have approved this comment because it demonstrates what we’re up against.

      We have never seen evidence proving that “the model of full decriminalization is demonstrably the best way to enable and empower them to do so without increasing exposure to violence” nor that the “Nordic Model kills”. We believe the evidence suggests that the exact opposite is true.

      The Nordic Model Now! group includes women who have been in prostitution themselves, some very recently. They are our most passionate members in our campaign for the Nordic Model approach.

      For a more in-depth understanding of why we disagree with Mavie, we recommend our review of the book Revolting Prostitutes:


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