Prostitution - challenging and deterring men's demand: strategic approach

Sets our our collective approach, working with stakeholders across the wider public and third sector, to challenge and deter men’s demand for prostitution and support those with experience of it.

Policy Principles

Six policy principles underpin this Strategy, and support wider related policy and practice, across Scottish Government and the wider public and third sector. These were developed by a short life working group and supporting reference group and published in December 2022.

As well as being at the heart of the Strategy we will expect organisations working with those involved in prostitution and those designing relevant policy, strategic plans, and services, to take account of these principles as they carry out and apply their role, as part of our collective response to tackling prostitution and supporting those with experience of it (taking a trauma informed approach), and challenging and deterring men’s demand.

Principles to challenge men’s demand for prostitution and support for those with experience of it.

National approach

A strong, consistent, and unambiguous national message that is understood and promoted throughout policy and practice on national and local levels that reinforces that there is no place for commercial sexual exploitation of any individual in Scotland.

It will make plain that prostitution and wider commercial sexual exploitation are a form of violence against women and girls, and that this will not be tolerated in Scotland. Those perpetrating exploitation (such as sex buyers and profiteers) will be held to account.

Victims of exploitation, not criminals

A legal and societal framework that understands the specific circumstances associated with those involved in prostitution and acknowledges this group as victims of exploitation, and not perpetrators of crime.

Those involved in exploiting, recruiting, managing, coercing and/or forcing individuals into prostitution, forms of human trafficking, and those who commit violent and sexual offences against this group receive punishment proportionate to their crime.

Promote social inclusion and address stigma.

Wider societal awareness of the harms associated with prostitution, with services and communities supporting those involved.

There will be a focus on changing attitudes around the purchase of sexual activity. This will be underpinned by broader societal change, forming part of our wider actions to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls and the attitudes that perpetuate it, aligning with the Equally Safe Strategy and the Vision for Justice in Scotland.

Preventative approach

A collective response across government, and the wider public and third sector, and civic society, to tackle the systemic societal and economic disadvantages and circumstances that can foster sexual exploitation. Supported by educational and public awareness initiatives, across society, aimed at deterring demand.

Supporting recovery and sustainable exit

Ensuring that all adults with experience of prostitution can access both emotional and practical trauma informed support, at any stage, and that there is a pathway of tangible long-term and consistent support when ready and preparing to exit. Support should be available for those who continue to be affected after they exit.

Learning from lived experience.

An adaptive framework informed by those with experience of prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation to ensure our approaches work for them.



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