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The Josephine Butler Society News

National Council of Women 'Speak Out' Competition

The JBS, as an affiliated member of the National Council of Women, has been asked to promote this competition for young women. We are happy to do this through our website, and will be also supporting it financially by a small grant from the Josephine Butler Educational Trust.

For further and more detailed information,we suggest that the website for the NCW www.ncwgb.org is consulted.

Discussions in Nothern Ireland and Scotland

In the Northern Ireland and Scottish Parliaments there are moves afoot to criminalise the buyer of sexual services as Sweden did in 1999. It is under discussion in Nothern Ireland, Scotland and the European Women's Lobby.

However, Josephine Butler said that what went on in the bedroom of consenting adults was no concern of hers, and we at JBS, the successor to the Ladies Association which she began in 1870, agree with these wise words.

We believe that what must be challenged are the conditions which lead to people into prostitution. This may be through poverty, addiction, lack of education, control or coercion by others, and in this we would include how women are portrayed by the media and internet and the lack of education in mutual respect between the sexes.

Our views are thus:

1. Criminalising the buyer will make men, who are otherwise law abiding, into criminals. This could well result in their wives and children being victimised too, possibly even risking family break down with all the social problems that can lead to.

2. The Swedish Law, which criminalises the buyer, has been criticised by a Swedish Liberal MP, Camilla Lindberg, as being ineffective. She, rightly in our opinion, suggests that it is not all prostitution that should be the target, drawing a distinction between the voluntary selling of sexual services, and the enforced selling of sex by trafficked women, and therefore recommends that combating trafficking should be the aim.

3. The Law in the UK already criminalises paying for sex with a child or adult exploited for this purpose (Police and Crime Act 2009), but it takes proactive policing to find this type of activity and this is expensive. However, it does bring the possibility of confiscation monies for the police.

4. We suggest that more and better immigration control at all UK points of entry, and also abroad especially in countries of origin and transit, by those specially trained to seek out trafficked children and adults, would be a better way to stop trafficking. It would then be a preventative measure instead of one of rehabilitation and possible deportation, actions which are expensive.

5. Criminalising the buyer will ignore the real criminals, who are traffickers, coercers and enslavers who control their victims and benefit from their earnings. The proposal is targeting the wrong people because, like the prostituting of women in the past, the buyer is an easier target than the trafficker/enslaver. The present UK Law makes successful prosecution problematic, as the prosecution has to prove ‘intent’ and ‘belief’, regrettably both of which are difficult to prove and together, make it almost impossible.

6. For the real criminals the proposed interruptions of their business will push prostitution further underground and the vulnerable will be harder to reach by agencies engaged in helping and encouraging exiting from prostitution and lifestyle changes.

Therefore our position is that to criminalise the non-violent, non-coercive buyer is to criminalise the wrong person. Sadly, it is often the case that the Law, when it attempts to help in the problems around prostitution, often impinges elsewhere where criminal activity can be completely absent, i.e. the freely prostituting woman (or man), whose clients are ‘friends’. So more police doing proactive work to expose the criminal networks of traffickers, enslavers and coercers would be our recommendation.

To conclude we are definitely not in favour of criminalisation of all men who buy sexual services. Where consenting adults are concerned this is surely their own business. Josephine Butler clearly believed that we have God given free will and as adults should make our own decisions without the Law being involved. Surely equality includes freedom of choice for men and women. But abuse of children or trafficking of the unwilling is wrong.

Election of New President

At our AGM on 7th November 2012, Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer [Sue] kindly offered herself for election as our President. She was unanimously elected. We welcome her to her new post with JBS and hope that she enjoys many happy years with us.

We are planning another Seminar either next year or 2014, and Sue has
promised to come in support of it, also to attend our AGM's in the future,
which will give a chance for more of our members to meet her.

Sue, as behoves a member of The House of Lords, has her own website, where you will be able to find more information about her. Meanwhile we look forward to getting to know her better, and hope for a long and fruitful relationship.

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