In a landmark decision, the Republic of Ireland has followed Northern Ireland’s example by passing a law that criminalises the purchase of sex.

This has several serious implications for Scotland. Firstly, with robust legislation either side of the border in Ireland and cheap travel to Scotland, there is a real concern that people will just travel to Scotland to pay for sex.

Secondly, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2015 will have a crucial impact in the fight against modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a market that works on supply and demand, therefore reducing the demand for paid sex is a key part of reducing trafficking.

As greater penalties for the buyer have been proven to decrease demand, traffickers will look at neighbouring places that do not have such restrictive laws and move their activities there. Therefore, it is a real concern that trafficking activity could move from Ireland to Scotland.

CARE for Scotland’s Director, Stuart Weir

Introducing laws to criminalise the buyer of sex addresses the inequality, harm and exploitation that is at the heart of prostitution. It also holds those who drive it – the buyers – responsible for their actions.

Neighbouring countries are now putting in place greater protections in law to curb sexual exploitation; it’s time for Scotland to do the same.

CARE urges the Scottish government to put in place a law that would criminalise the purchase of sex – this would send a clear message that Scotland is serious about tackling sexual exploitation.

With Scotland so easy to get to from Ireland, politicians cannot afford to be complacent – this law is going to have a knock-on effect on the sex industry in Scotland. But if the Scottish government acts soon, it can avoid becoming a sex-tourism destination.

CARE’s Senior Policy Officer for Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich

If we are to prevent more people becoming victims of human trafficking there is an urgent need for legislation to challenge the demand for commercial sex.

It is not simply enough to rescue and help victims after they are exploited, we must seek to prevent these crimes in the first place.

If the Scottish government passed a law criminalising the purchase of sex it would send a clear message that Scotland is a hostile environment for human trafficking”

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