On Tuesday 13 April 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation launched its new report, Bust the Business Model: How to stop sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in the UK.
Dame Diana Johnson MP, Chair of the APPG on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, chaired an online launch event to introduce the new report, which sets out how policy makers can combat sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in the UK. This new report provides comprehensive evidence of the need for legislative and law enforcement action to reduce demand for sexual exploitation, hold perpetrators to account and provide support, not sanctions, for victims. The report also examines common myths and misinformation about demand reduction legislation.
In her foreword to Bust the Business Model, Dame Diana Johnson MP writes:
“To stop sexual exploitation, we have to bust the business model of sex trafficking. That requires tackling demand from sex buyers and holding the ruthless individuals who facilitate sexual exploitation to account. …It is time to shift the burden of criminality from those who are exploited in the sex trade – to those who perpetrate, facilitate and profit from this abuse.”
> Read the report: Bust the Business Model, How to stop sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in the UK.
Dame Diana Johnson MP has welcomed a recommendation by the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation to outlaw online pimping in Scotland. Dame Diana is calling for the law against pimping websites to be extended to England and Wales.
Dame Diana, who is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, said:
“I strongly welcome today’s recommendation by the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation that the law be updated to stop the ruthless activities of online pimps. Pimping websites are rocket fuel for the sex trafficking trade. These websites, which offer a catalogue of women for men looking to pay for sex, make it vastly quicker and easier for traffickers and pimps to advertise their victims. They are key to the current ‘business model’ of sex trafficking. It is a national scandal that pimping websites currently operate openly and freely in the UK – sexually exploiting women with impunity.
“As Scotland looks to strengthen its laws against sexual exploitation, the UK Parliament must act in England and Wales. To stop pimping websites, the Government should make it a criminal offence to enable or profit from the prostitution of another person – whether online or offline. Comprehensive support services must also be provided for victims of sexual exploitation. It’s time to put a stop to the online pimps who profit from violence against women.”
> Read the inquiry report: Online Pimping: An inquiry into Sexual Exploitation Advertising websites.
On 9 March 2021, Dame Diana Johnson MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, chaired a roundtable meeting on service provision for women involved in commercial sexual exploitation. MPs heard from frontline services providing support to women involved in the sex trade on a range of issues, including best practise in supporting women involved in prostitution and how parliamentarians should respond to the needs of women in the sex trade. The participants were:
“For us, shifting the burden of blame off of the women and onto those who really do have a choice, which is predominantly men that are purchasing sex, I think that is where I would like to see the burden of the law shift.” – Helena Croft, Director of Streetlight UK.
On Monday 26 October 2020, Dame Diana Johnson MP, Chair of the APPG on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, chaired a meeting at an online summit to address the sexual exploitation of Romanian women by UK sex buyers. The summit, organised by UK Feminista, brought together policy makers, frontline services and agencies in Romania and the UK to identify what measures are needed to stop the sexual exploitation of Romanian women by men in the UK.
Reflecting on learnings from the summit, Dame Diana Johnson MP said:
“The industrial-scale sexual exploitation of Romanian women by UK men is a national scandal. Most men do not pay for sex, but the minority who do fuel sex trafficking, fund organised crime and cause untold damage to their victims. Without demand from sex buyers, there would be no supply of vulnerable women to be raped and sexually assaulted in brothels across Britain.
Other countries – such as France, Ireland, Norway and Sweden – have cracked down on the demand that drives sex trafficking by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising victims and holding third-party exploiters to account. Yet the UK Government is allowing sex buyers to continue abusing and pimping websites to continue profiting. That has to end now.”
On Wednesday 9 December 2020 Dame Diana Johnson MP, Chair of the APPG on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, introduced the Sexual Exploitation Bill in Parliament to bust the business model of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Dame Diana Johnson MP’s bill would criminalise paying for sex, criminalise enabling or profiting from the prostitution of others, decriminalise victims of sexual exploitation, and provide support and exiting services.
To bust the business model of sex trafficking, we have to tackle the demand that drives this brutal trade and the pimping websites that facilitate it. On 15 December 2020 15:00 – 16:30 GMT, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation will host an online international panel of speakers to discuss why the UK urgently needs to follow the lead of Ireland, Sweden, France and others – by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising victims of sexual exploitation and tackling pimping websites. Speakers will include:
On 15 September 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation was inaugurated. The APPG on Commercial Sexual Exploitation is the successor group of the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade. The following parliamentarians were elected as officers of the group 2020 – 2021: Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Ronnie Cowan MP, Dame Diana Johnson DBE MP (Chair), Carolyn Harris MP, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Jess Phillips MP and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.
On 19 June 2019 a Westminster Hall debate was held in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act. MPs highlighted that trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is currently taking place on an industrial scale in the UK, and women are disproportionately affected. The leaders of the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act announced they will undertake a follow-up inquiry to assess whether prostitution laws are undermining efforts to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation. Contributors to the debate included Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Sarah Champion MP, Carolyn Harris MP and Rt Hon Maria Miller MP.
On 16 and 17 May 2019 a cross-party group of parliamentarians and practitioners visited Sweden to learn about the country’s Sex Purchase Act. In adopting this legislation, Sweden became the first country in the world to tackle demand for sexual exploitation by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex and providing exiting support for those who have been sexually exploited. Evidence reveals that since Sweden adopted the Sex Purchase Act demand for prostitution has decreased, public attitudes towards paying for sex have significantly changed, and the country has become a less attractive destination for sex traffickers.
On 24 April 2018 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade welcomed Per-Anders Sunesson, Sweden’s Ambassador at Large for Combating Trafficking in Persons, to a Question and Answer session with MPs and peers wishing to find out more about Sweden’s Sex Purchase Act, which was introduced twenty years ago.
The Sex Purchase Act tackles demand for sex trafficking and prostitution by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex, and providing support and exiting services for people exploited through the sex trade. This legislative framework, also known as the ‘Sex Buyer Law’ or ‘Nordic model’, has since been adopted by France, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Israel. Canada has also adopted similar legislation. MPs and peers heard that since the law came into force, demand for buying sex and attitudes towards buying sex have changed considerably. Sweden is now considered a more hostile destination for sex traffickers.
On 16 October 2018 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade held its AGM in the House of Parliament. The following parliamentarians were elected as officers of the group for 2018-19: Fiona Bruce MP, Sarah Champion MP (Chair), Ronnie Cowan MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP, Carolyn Harris MP, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Jess Phillips MP and Gavin Shuker MP. The AGM minutes can be downloaded here.
On Wednesday 4 July 2018 a Westminster Hall debate was held in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the motion, ‘Tackling demand for commercial sexual exploitation’. MPs from the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Scottish National Party called on the Government to tackle demand for prostitution and sex trafficking by criminalising paying for sex, decriminalising selling sex and providing exiting services for people exploited in the sex trade. Contributors to the debate included: Sarah Champion MP, Gavin Shuker MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Jim Shannon MP, Ronnie Cowan MP, Jess Phillips MP, Angela Crawley MP and Carolyn Harris MP.
On 13 September 2017 the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade held its AGM in the Houses of Parliament. Elections were held for the positions of officers of the group. The following parliamentarians were elected as officers of the APPG on Prostitution: Gavin Shuker MP (Chair), Fiona Bruce MP (Vice-Chair), Sarah Champion MP (Vice-Chair), Thangam Debbonaire MP (Vice-Chair), Jess Phillips MP (Vice-Chair), and Lord McColl of Dulwich (Secretary).