sex sells

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"Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession. It is, indeed, a model of all professional work: the worker relinquishes all control over himself…in exchange for money. Because of the passivity it entails, this is a difficult, and for many a distasteful role’"

-Thomas Szasz

There may be some truth in that which Rudyard Kipling coined in his short story ‘On the City Wall’. For thousands of years, humans have been exchanging goods and money for sex and it seemed that a society which began to develop in material wealth, developed in some form of prostitution. According to some, it has been found in every civilization on earth throughout human history and goods, services and money had been bartered for pleasure outside of marriage. Kipling said `Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world’, and with many debates on how to deal with prostitution, medical professionals began to misquote the phrase of Kipling that it took a life of its own. Some were of the opinion to do away with this vice since it was the cause of many sexually transmitted diseases which could spread while others claimed that fighting prostitution was not useless since it was the world’s most ancient profession which cannot change human nature and those who had made this claim had no historical evidence to offer to support this claim.These opposing views haven’t changed today.

The total number of prostitutes in the United Kingdom is not known and is difficult to assess, but authorities and NGOs estimate that approximately 100,000 persons in the country are engaged in prostitution. Out of 6,750 students surveyed, 5% of them have worked in the sex industry. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, prostitution contributed £5.3 billion to the UK economy in 2009. In 2015 the HMRC set up a dedicated “adult entertainment task force” to collect unpaid income tax from, among others, online escort agencies. Pretty big business.

So, should it be illegal to pay for sex in the UK? In June 2015, it became illegal in Northern Ireland to pay for sex, with Northern Ireland following Sweden and Norway in criminalising men who use prostitutes. Prostitution in the UK is technically legal although related activities, such a kerb crawling and soliciting for sex in a public place are outlawed. Campaigners such as the APPG (All- Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution) think that adopting the “Nordic model” would help to stifle the trade and end demand but others such as the English Collective of Prostitutes (who along with the US PROStitutes Collective are known as the International Prostitutes collective) say this would just drive it into more dangerous locations and further stigmatise the industry and that the best protection for prostitution is actually legalisation.

When all’s said and done: Sex Sells. It always will. Treat the sex industry, like any other industry and empower it with safeguards, which will at least help to rid it of exploitative and unhealthy practices. Legitimise the sex workers and millions of women who enter this trade to feed themselves and their families freeing them from the clutches of pimps and brothel owners. The time has come for lawmakers to grow up.

Until such a time, should you find yourself in need of legal advice, whether you are involved in the owning of a brothel or otherwise, or you know someone who does, please call our expert on brothel cases, Erin Cowley on 0161 827 9500/07714 135960 or email her on erincowley@burtoncopeland.com.