Just in case anyone hasn’t heard the good news, last night the House of Lords voted in favour of clause 14 (formerly 13) of the Policing and Crime Bill.

Here’s the announcement from the Demand Change Campaign:

Victory as Peers vote for women, not pimps and punters!

The Demand Change! Campaign is delighted to announce a major victory for women exploited by the sex industry, as last night the House of Lords voted in favour of Clause 14 (formerly 13) of the Policing & Crime Bill, putting the rights of exploited women over those of pimps and punters.

In focusing on the demand for sexual services, Clause 14 shifts criminal liability away from people exploited through prostitution and places responsibility firmly on the shoulders of those who contribute to commercial sexual exploitation by choosing to purchase girls, boys, women and men for sexual use.

This is a huge achievement for the 67 women’s and human rights organisations which supported this bill, and which campaigned tirelessly to obtain justice for the women, children and men who have for so long been exploited by the sex industry.  Many of these organisations along with Demand Change! activists attended our successful mass support rally in Parliament Square just before the vote, calling on Peers to ‘Vote for Women, not Pimps and Punters!’.

A massive well done and thank you to all of you who wrote letters to MPs and Peers, who signed the joint statement of support, who protested outside the Houses of Parliament, who gave testimony and were part of or helped make the film of video testimony that was screened in the House of Commons on the eve of the debate (mentioned in the debate) and who have been working for years to raise awareness about the reality of prostitution and the need to tackle demand for commercial sexual exploitation.

This is a huge victory in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation.

Indeed it is.

You can read the Lords debate here. And here’s Baroness Scotland’s contribution to it:

We should not cloak ourselves in the impression that what we are talking about are the civil liberties of the purchaser. What we are talking about is the abuse, degradation, humiliation and pain caused to women who engage in this activity, not because they desire it but because they are compelled, coerced and manacled in a way that no human being should be….

We are faced with a choice tonight: do we speak for the victims, do we stand up for those who have no voice for themselves, do we stand in the breach for them—or do we provide a cloak of anonymity and protection for those who do not wish to face what they do when they purchase sex from a woman or a man, quite often of tender years, who has been coerced or forced into that position?…… I need to be clear that the Government’s view is that those who purchase sex from people in that position commit a wrong. They enable a situation that is avoidable to continue. We have a choice tonight to decide on which stand we will set our mark. Who will we support, and who will we defend?


(Edit 5th November) You can also watch the debate here (fast forward to 1:07.15):