Rhoda Grant and Laura Lee on BBC Radio Scotland

You can listen to Laura Lee and Rhoda Grant discuss Rhoda Grant’s proposed ban on the purchase of sex in Scotland.  The program will be aired on BBC Radio Scotland on December 2nd.

Rhoda Grant is proposing a bill which will criminalise the purchase of sex.  Her argument is prostitution is violence against women, and that nobody would voluntarily work as a prostitute.  Removing the demand will reduce prostitution.

In support of her arguments she maintains that 75% of women in prostitution started at 14 or under.  A shocking statistic.  She quotes this from research written by Margaret Melrose.  Her quote from the document is a double lie. Quoting from her research.

In fact, approximately two-thirds of participants had become involved before they were sixteen and of these, three-quarters (24) actually became involved when they were 14 or younger.

There you see the 75% which she quotes, read it carefully its 3/4 of 2/3      That is  50%.  Yes still shocking, but it does show how Rhoda has either not read the report carefully, or she is deliberately miss quoting.

OK now for the killer point.  This group of prostitutes was chosen specifically because they started sex work at under 18.  Yes you read that correctly.  This was research specifically on young persons (under 18) entering the sex industry.  Not surprising that the entry date of this group would be under 18 is it now.

The Margaret Melrose report goes on to recommend a number of solutions, these are reduce poverty, role back the lower minimum wage for under 21 year olds.

We have seen that it is these intersecting inequalities that create the conditions in which the prostitution labour market thrives and provides alternative opportunities for income generation for vulnerable, emotionally needy and disadvantaged young people, but for young women in particular (Melrose 2000). While new government guidelines do suggest some progress in responding to juvenile prostitution, and are therefore to be welcomed, they do little to tackle its causes. As we have seen, labour market and welfare policies play their part in propelling young people into prostitution by determining rights to welfare entitlement and wages on the basis of chronological age rather than on need or financial commitment (Coles and Craig 1999).

In order to tackle the causes of child prostitution, this author would argue that there is a need to tackle the poverty of the communities from which these young people so often come (Pitts 1997). The social security system, voluntary and statutory social services agencies, the education and youth services need to be provided with the resources to respond to the problems with which these young people are faced. In addition, there is a need to provide them with attractive opportunities in the formal labour market, as well as to restore welfare benefits and educational grants to young people (Adams et. al 1997). While young people are denied legitimate means to resist destitution, or to achieve economic and domestic autonomy, prostitution will continue to appear as a rational economic choice and they will continue to engage in ‘survival acts’ through which their economic marginalisation and emotional vulnerability become more deeply entrenched (Melrose 2000).

Margaret does not mention the solution to juveniles entering the sex industry is criminalising the buyer.  No need to, paying a girl under 18 is already a criminal offence.

Rhoda Grant as quoted by Laura Lee at a conference on human trafficking  stated “I CAN rely on that study because there are very few others done”. 

Can you trust our leaders with a comment like that when they are using statistics from a report that is totally irrelevant to the point they are trying to make?

Laura Lee may be contacted for interviews on   07926 309 446 or [email protected],