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.

Overview of policies contributing to the Strategy- Policy Map

Given the cross-cutting nature of prostitution, a holistic approach is needed to both tackle demand and support those with experience of selling/exchanging sex. Key to the Strategy and its underpinning policy principles, is the need for a consistent approach across Scottish Government and the wider public sector, in terms of related policy and practice.

This Strategy forms part of our wider approach to tackling commercial sexual exploitation and links closely with our Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. The new multi-agency group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation will further develop our approach co-ordinating our efforts to tackle CSE holistically.

Challenging demand also requires looking at the issues ‘upstream,’ taking a preventative approach and identifying opportunities to engage with young people as part of their wider relationships and education. Our work to tackle demand also includes raising awareness of the complexities of CSE across wider society through projects like CSE Aware which increase awareness of Commercial Sexual Exploitation across the wider public and third sector. Work will continue and engage men in discussions about VAWG to promote behaviour change, such as the work of organisations like White Ribbon Scotland.

An important aspect of disputing demand is removing the drivers of exploitation. This Strategy is cognisant of the need to respond to the systemic societal and economic disadvantages that women face, in order to address the conditions that can drive exploitation. This also involves recognising the risk factors and circumstances that can lead to exploitation. Poverty is one of the key drivers for exploitation and there are a range of relevant actions we are taking to tackle it. One example is our approach to maximise benefit uptake which remains centred around being aware of, and addressing, the barriers that can exist for people accessing Scottish benefits.

Our Justice Vision and the findings of the Women in Justice Leadership panel both highlight the need for urgent action to ensure women are better served by our approaches to Justice and the need for trauma informed practice across the justice system. The importance of the impact of stigma was also highlighted by the lived experience research and in addition the need to be aware of layered stigma. Our approaches to tackling related experiences where individuals may experience stigma, such as addiction and mental health, are aware of the overlaps in tackling the stigma associated with commercial sexual exploitation.

The Scottish Government supports a range of projects supporting women with experience of commercial sexual exploitation, from crisis support through to support, when ready, to exit from prostitution sustainably – further information on these and the wider policies that contribute to the Strategy can be found in the supporting annex.

The policy map below gives an overview of this. Further information on the support available for those with experience of prostitution and information for practitioners can be found on the Scottish Government’s Safer Scot webpage on Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

Policy map giving an overview of wider policies related to the strategic approach

Graphic text below:

Policy map giving an overview of wider policies related to the strategic approach

Scotland’s strategic approach to challenging and deterring men’s demand for prostitution and supporting the recovery and sustainable exit of those involved in prostitution aligns with both the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe Strategy and Vision for Justice.

The key components of Scotland’s strategic approach to challenging demand for prostitution are related to wider policies:

Disrupting and deterring demand

  • Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy
  • Serious Organised Crime Strategy
  • Violence Prevention Framework for Scotland
  • National Guidance for Child Protection
  • Gender Based Violence in Schools Framework
  • RSHP school education programme
  • The CSE Aware project
  • Policy development to tackle misogyny

Removing the drivers for exploitation

  • Benefit take up strategy
  • Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
  • Debt advice services
  • Housing support and homelessness prevention
  • National Missing Persons Framework
  • Alcohol and Drug Treatment Strategy
  • Ending Destitution Together Strategy
  • New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy
  • Support post prison release
  • Student Support / Finance
  • Continuing care and aftercare for care leavers

Improving access to support and tackling stigma

  • National Trauma Transformation Programme
  • Women’s Health Plan
  • Sexual Health Action Plan
  • Best Start Maternity Strategy
  • Drug and alcohol support
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy
  • Hospital Navigators Programme
  • Employability support
  • Housing to 2040 Strategy
  • Delivering Equally Safe funded projects with a focus on CSE
  • Relevant VCAF projects, such as TARA
  • Victim Support Scotland’s Emergency Assistance Fund
  • Safer.Scot CSE webpages

The key components of Scotland’s strategic approach to challenging demand for prostitution are underpinned by policy principles.

  • National Approach
  • Victims of exploitation, not criminals
  • Promote social inclusion and address stigma
  • Preventative Approach
  • Supporting recovery and sustainable exit
  • Learning from lived experience



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