According to BBC, Holyrood's justice committee has been gathering evidence on the Human Trafficking Exploitation Bill, which is going though parliament. Many campaigners throughout Scotland are asking for prostitution to be made illegal, but the committee thinks they are not the right legislation for addressing this very pressing issue. Michael Matheson, who is the Justice Secretary, has agreed to meet with campaigners on both sides of the matter before a conclusion is reached.
The committee backs the basic principles of the legislation, creating a specific offense of human trafficking and calling for a maximum penalty of life in prison. However, the persons forced into committing a crime will not be held responsible for their crimes. There are many positive parts of the bill, it is just a matter of singling out the offense of human trafficking and strengthening the protection of the victims of trafficking. The issue of creating an offense for the purchasing of sex along with this bill is not appropriate and should be consider two separated issues.
It is wonderful to hear that Scotland is making progress in regards to human trafficking. I am glad to hear that this offense is being made illegal and punishable through the justice system. However, I do agree that the two issues involved (trafficking and selling sex) should be dealt with separately. I can see why they would try to lump the two together to protect the victims of human trafficking, but I think that it would be more appropriate if they created a clause in the bill that protects victims of human trafficking. I think that a separate bill should be passed in order to make prostitution illegal, therefore anyone who is selling their bodies can (and hopefully will) be prosecuted for that offense. If there is a clause in the Human Trafficking Exploitation Bill that dismisses any charges of selling sex from the victims of human trafficking, then the victims are protected, and the persons selling sex without being trafficked can still be prosecuted. Overall, I agree with the committee in their decision not to lump together two separate, although related, issues. It makes more sense to be specific about the offenses and to protect the victims of human trafficking.