Fact: Choice is complicated

“My experiences show that a woman doesn’t choose prostitution. She is choosing survival. Prostitution isn’t a choice. It is the absence of choice. Nobody makes the choice to be poor, low caste, or female. Society and individuals take advantage of this lack of choice.

“Language is politics. I use the term ‘prostituted woman.’ People wonder, ‘Who prostituted her?’ The system of inequality is what prostitutes women and girls.” Rachira Gupta talking about her book, River of Flesh: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction.

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Fact: Prostitution is inherently violent

Prostitution involves unwanted sex, which is itself a form violence, and the punter requires the woman to pretend that she is enjoying it, even if she finds it physically and emotionally repulsive. This is a form of psychological violence. But punters and pimps are often also physically violent. Right up to murder.

Nothing can make prostitution safe. The numbers of dead women tell us that. Dead bodies don’t lie.

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Fact: Prostitution is predicated on foregoing the right to refuse sex

The law in England and Wales recognises that each sexual encounter and activity requires separate consent and that a person has the right to withdraw or refuse consent at any time for any or no reason, and this applies equally to all persons and regardless of the relationship between them. The practical realities of prostitution are incompatible with the prostituted person’s absolute legal right to reject sexual advances and activity for any or no reason.

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Fact: Women often struggle to leave prostitution

Women often struggle to exit prostitution, and many of the ones that do, find themselves returning after a temporary reprieve, due to the difficulties in finding a stable home and income. Added to which, many are affected by mental health problems, low self esteem and an anxiety with life outside of prostitution.

Well funded support and exit services are vital for women trying to remain exited, and the Nordic Model is the only legislation that prioritises this approach in assisting women to rebuild their lives.

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Fact: The Nordic Model approach is cost effective

Suffolk police implemented a Nordic Model style prostitution strategy after a punter, called Steve Wright, murdered five prostituted women in Ipswich.

A subsequent evaluation found that every £1 spent on the strategy saved £2 of public money, because of savings to the criminal justice and social support systems.

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Further reading