Last week, we published in the programme for government the Scottish Government’s commitment to develop a model that effectively tackles men’s demand for prostitution. We will progress that in this parliamentary term. Due to the complexities of the issue, we require to assess not only the legislative needs of our chosen model but the support that is available for those who are involved in prostitution. We will be commissioning a programme of lived experience engagement to further inform the work.
Many countries have adopted a challenging demand model from which we can learn, and we are working on a comprehensive international review to develop our evidence base and understand key challenges and common principles applied across the approaches.
I know that the member shares my resolve to get this right and supports our overarching aspirations to embed equality and human rights in Scotland.
The minister will be aware of the recent work that the cross-party group on commercial sexual exploitation carried out on commercial websites that sell people for sex, which causes misery and turbocharges trafficking. In light of the report, will she look to outlaw online pimping to stop commercial websites profiting from exploitation by advertising prostitution?
We are aware of the findings of the cross-party group’s report, which follows its inquiry into websites that host adverts for sexual exploitation. We have previously written to the online platforms, including Vivastreet, to make our concerns clear and help to ensure that people are protected from exploitation. We will continue to develop policy in that area as part of our on-going engagement with the United Kingdom online safety bill, and as part of our work to develop a model for Scotland that challenges men’s demand for prostitution.
The recent equally safe consultation into challenging men’s demand for prostitution highlighted that support for women involved in prostitution should be
“holistic, person-centred, and able to address the multiple, underlying needs of many women.”
The consultation highlighted that we need to do more to ensure that women are able to access appropriate support services that can meet their needs. We know that services, including those that help people exit prostitution, are inconsistent across Scotland, and our aim is to address that. As part of that work, I am clear that we need to involve the voices of those involved in prostitution in the design of the services that affect them.