Gavin Shuker Rides Again

The Nordic Model is a bit like Brexit. The more discredited it is by facts and evidence, the more tenaciously its advocates cling to it. It is not entirely surprising that The All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution has recommended the criminalisation of the purchase of sex in its report on pop-up brothels. This group is chaired by Labour MP and evangelical Christian Gavin Shuker. This is the same Gavin Shuker who failed to answer any of the questions I asked him in this e-mail exchange 5 years ago. I doubt that he grasps the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the sex industry (if we can call it that)  or the way that high minded but simplistic solutions to complex issues will do more harm than good. The war on drugs hasn’t been a raging success has it?  This is a similarity to Brexit too isn’t it? And so is the shouting down of people who try to inject a little factual analysis into the debate. For “remoaner” or ”traitor” read pimp.

The report is actually quite long on sweeping statement but short on hard fact and .as the ECP has noted, the growth  in popup brothels may have rather more to do with austerity induced poverty and police crackdowns on more permanent premises  forcing ladies to move on regularly. The group has taken no account of the submissions of both sex workers’ groups and academics or indeed anything that didn’t fit their pre-packaged view of the matter.

 know anecdotally that trafficking does take place and I have heard some shocking stories from current and former sex workers. However the available evidence suggests that a large majority  of sex workers are not trafficked or otherwise coerced.  Many of them have taken up sex work because of their economic circumstances and would, in many cases, much rather be doing something else, but that is another issue. It is also not clear that those who have been trafficked are going to be helped by driving prostitution further underground. Clients and other sex workers can be, and on occasion, have been a source of assistance to trafficking victims and a source of intelligence to the police, a point made by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in their response to the consultations on Lord Morrow’s proposals (since enacted) in Northern Ireland.

The Nordic Model will not “end demand” any more than any other legislative prohibition in the past has ended demand  for whatever it was the social improvers decided wasn’t good for us. It will not help anyone who has been coerced into sex work. What it will do is bring in even more patriarchal state control over women’s bodies. It both fascinates and appalls me that so many so-called “feminists” are happy to go along with that.

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