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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > November 2016 > Should it be illegal to pay for sex?

Should it be illegal to pay for sex?

Last year it became illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland—following the model of Sweden and Norway. The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee is currently investigating UK prostitution laws.

YES We are in the middle of an epidemic of violence against women. In England and Wales, recorded offences relating to rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse are at an all-time high. The number of reported rapes in London alone (a fraction of the real figure) rose by almost 11 per cent in the year to June 2016. In the same period, over 150,000 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded in the capital. This is a highly gendered phenomenon. Almost nine out of 10 victims of sexual violence are women, as are three-quarters of domestic abuse victims.

Something similar is true of prostitution: estimated numbers of male and transgender individuals vary, but most who sell sex are women. In a culture that tolerates appalling behaviour towards women generally, it is not surprising that women who sell sex are among the most vulnerable to—and suffer the highest levels of—male violence.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s November issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues Donald Trump is a consequence of the American government ignoring the people—and they’ll have to deal with his impact whether he wins or loses the presidential election. Diane Roberts explores the rage eating America by looking at the people that government has failed. Switching the focus to the UK, David Marquand and a quartet of commentators assess Labour’s position—with varying conclusions. Also in this issue: Matthew Qvortrup looks at the relationship between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, two of Europe’s most important politicians whose lives have long been intertwined. Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate for the mayor of Manchester, lays down the reasons why the northern powerhouse is so important and Prospect’s Arts and Books Editor Sameer Rahim reviews Zadie Smith’s latest novel.
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