Sex for Sale Ban will put lives at risk

This article appeared in the  Highland News  paper.  It appeared because there is a proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex, an implementation of the Swedish Law.

A high profile call girl who regularly entertains clients in Inverness is warning a local MSP’s bid to outlaw buying sex in Scotland could put the lives of prostitutes in danger.

Laura Lee a leading sex industry worker campaigner is calling for a rethink of proposals which went before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee this week.

She is highly critical of Inverness based Labour MSP Rhoda Grant who she claims doesn’t know what she’s talking about in her move to toughen up the law on prostitution by making it a criminal offence to buy sex.

The Highlands and Islands MSP this week put a bill before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee outlawing paying for the services of prostitutes.  She believes the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill will reduce the demand for prostitution.

The Justice Committee, however, recommended that the proposed bill should not go past the draft stage until further consultations are made.

And Ms Grant’s bid has met with fierce criticism by  courtesan  and member of the International Union of Sex Workers Laura Lee, a regular visitor to Inverness where she entertains a string of wealthy clients.

Ms Lee, who works all over the UK and also on the international scene, says the MSP has been ill-informed and her actions would drive prostitution underground, possibly placing sex workers in danger.

Glasgow based Ms Lee, who describes herself as a happy, independent working girl who is not pimped or coerced in any way and who enjoys her job, says Ms Grant had got it wrong.

She told the Highland News Group: She will certainly drive it underground.  What she is aiming to do is protect women, but I strongly suggest to her that she checks with them what the alternatives are for them to make a good living. If I did not do what I do, will I just have to sit at home?  She is trying to protect women in the industry who have been trafficked and so on.  But the way to protect them is not to hide them away but to open up channels for sex workers.  It is really difficult to protect these people.

Laura added: Really, rather then making it illegal for men to purchase sexual services, what we should be saying is it is legal and if the men come across something they are not happy with – about a lady being ill-treated or coerced or whatever – to phone a special number.  The action Rhoda Grant is seeking to put through as legislation is all based on very iffy information.  She’s relying on very shoddy statistics which have been debunked by leading authorities.

These, she said, include Dr Brooke Magnanti, a research scientist who outed herself as the famous call-girl Belle de Jour and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC a champion of womens’ rights.

And in a no-holds-barred verbal assult, Laura continued: Ms Grant simply does not know what she is talking about.  She has been fed a lot of misinformation – and I don’t blame her – by the anti sex-worker brigade and aboloitionists who are relying on sex workers to be too afraid to speak up, but we are not.  If they were trying, say to criminalise electricians, would they not go to those electricians and ask them what they thought?  But not us.  They are treating us like a criminal underclass and have not even bothered to seek are views.

This week Ms Grant rejected claims her proposed Bill had not gone out for full consultation, saying it had gone out widely to individuals and organisations and had received 122 responses, including some from prostitutes.

She added: There are people who have been prostitutes who are supportive of this Bill and are a testament to the harm prostitution does,  There is a very broad coalition of people whi back change in this area.  The consultation was quite open, and it will be going out to consultation again, which means everyone can get another chance to have their say.

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