Ruth Maguire MSP welcomed the announcement of a Scottish Government fund aimed at tackling male demand for prostitution.

The £100,000 ‘Addressing Prostitution as a Form of Gender-based Violence’ fund was announced by Community Safety Minister, Ash Denham MSP in a speech to the Purchasing Power – Men Who Buy Sex conference in Glasgow.

The event, organised by Glasgow City Council, NHS Health Scotland and the Women’s Support Project, looked at the links between commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of violence against women – and efforts to tackle this nationally and internationally.

Ms Denham said:

“The harsh reality for women engaged in prostitution is that they are at risk of violence and victimisation and their sexual health may be compromised.

“While recorded crimes for prostitution have substantially decreased in the last ten years, the circumstances that may lead to involvement in prostitution remain. In 2020, much of the related harm occurs behind closed doors and is hidden from public view.

“The fund I have announced today will support new and innovative work aimed at addressing those issues through frontline services, as well as initiatives to challenge demand for prostitution.”

Ruth Maguire MSP said: “I am grateful for the announcement of this fund to challenge male demand for prostitution. As long as female bodies are objectified, commodified and reduced to something to be bought and sold, used and traded, we will not have equality or justice, and women and girls will continue to suffer violence.

“I am grateful that the Scottish Government is clear on its position on the violence of prostitution and, importantly, is considering a more robust approach to tackling male demand for prostituted women and girls.”

The ‘Addressing Prostitution as a Form of Gender-based Violence’ fund will open for bids in spring. Details of the fund will be published by Impact Funding Partners and further information will be available through the Violence against Women and Girls Partnerships and Equally Safe channels.

Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, adopts the position that prostitution is a form of gendered violence. National outcome priority 4 commits to action so that ‘men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls, and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response’.

Across the last ten years in Scotland, 99.8% of convictions for kerb crawling or loitering in order to buy sex were made against men.

The Scottish Government has committed to bring forward a national consultation to gather views on how best to challenge men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland.  Views will also be sought around reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit. The consultation will be published later this year.

In February, the Scottish Government launched the Delivering Equally Safe Fund to support frontline services to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.