Will Paying For Sex Be Banned In The UK?

The Swedish model is slowly spreading around the world, with Romania, Iceland, and as of the 1st of the month, Northern Ireland taking on this ban on those buying sex. Many countries are looking at the law and wondering whether taking it on will make a difference for them.
Sexy woman in black lingerie lying in bed

Many are buying into this belief that this law will massively reduce the amount of prostitutes, escorts, and sex workers in the country. How? By stopping the demand for sex, those selling it will then have no clients. Without clients, they will simply stop selling sex and move on to other things that are seen as more socially acceptable, the clients will then go on to trying more socially acceptable practices, and we can all live happily ever after.

Well, we know that isn’t true, and that things won’t happen like that, but with all of the talk about it at the moment we have to ask – will paying for sex or paying for a prostitute be banned in the UK?

The truth about the Swedish Model

The Swedish Model, otherwise known as the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, is thought to have been a huge success. Often we see claims in the media that the Swedish model has worked, followed by some figures of the amount of sex workers in the country at the moment while telling us the numbers are reduced.

They tend to ignore the fact that there were no figures available before the act was introduced, so claiming it as a success is wrong. As journalist Diane Taylor points out: “prostitution statistics are notoriously unreliable, as many sex workers are operating in a hidden, underground way and aren’t included in any headcounts”.

Those eager to implement the Swedish model want us to believe one huge thing, and that is that those selling are “the exploited partner in the exchange”. They are the weak victims in need of rescuing, and what better way to do that then by bringing in a law that makes their clients the criminals?

While we know that this just isn’t the case, this is the stigma surrounding the industry. Far too many people have seen TV shows and films like ‘Pretty Woman’ and thought “this must be what it is like, and all those women need saving!” without thinking about the male or transgender sex workers out there, or about the fact that many have chosen to do this.

Thankfully, there are some out there who do see this. The Guardian newspaper admits that, while not all sex workers are “all safe, happy and well remunerated”, there are plenty out there who love their jobs. This is the work that they have chosen for themselves, and so we need to start realising that “not everyone who engages in sex work is raped, trafficked, beaten and unpaid.”

What it means for the future of sex work

The future of sex work, should the Swedish model be implemented in the UK, is pretty clear. While the proposals are being backed by many politicians, there are a lot of sex workers who say that the Swedish model “won’t ‘rescue’ them or prompt them to walk away rejoicing from their work but will simply make it more dangerous for them to continue doing what they have chosen to do.”

You might be wondering just how the Swedish model would make it more dangerous for them to continue to sell sex. Unfortunately, there will be clients who don’t want to take the risk. After all, the stigma surrounding sex work is hard to escape.

If they do risk it, they will want to make the transaction as smooth and quick as possible. As Molly Smith, writer for New Republic, points out: “a potential client… will be nervous and keen to agree to terms speedily if his role is criminalized, and to keep his business the sex worker has far less time to make crucial assessments about whether he seems safe.”

This is what countries like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Romania, and Northern Ireland are now supporting. There are many other countries out there eager to stop prostitution altogether and, to them, this seems like the best solution.

Will it hit the UK?

So many countries are talking about potentially taking on this model to try and slow and eventually stop sex work, so you can understand why we might be thinking it will come to the UK soon.

However, one sex worker and former parliamentary candidate has spoken out about it, saying that a “ban on prostitution won’t reach England” and hopefully the rest of the UK. Why? She has stated that many of her “good clients” are actually powerful figures in government and politics, and so “if this law ever came to England, those good clients, those politicians would no longer come to see me.”

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t being debated, and with the Immigrant Council of Ireland throwing around figures and scaring other countries into thinking the Swedish model is the only way forward, we should be ready for a big battle ahead.

I honestly hope that it doesn’t hit the UK. Why can’t we simply accept that there are some people out there who enjoy having sex? Yes, we might be a country of prudes who hate the idea of people having sex for fun, but we need to stop assuming that sex work simply requires you to lie on your back and be done with it. There is a lot more to it than that. Sex work is real work, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can stop putting escorts and prostitutes at risk.

What do you think? Do you believe that the Swedish model will come to the UK, or is it going to creep into different areas of the country first? Tell us your thoughts in the box below, or check out the Escort Sweden forum to see what others are saying over there.

Lara Mills
Follow me

Lara Mills

Lara Mills is a writer who has four years of sex industry expertise behind her. Since she entered the adult industry, she has worked on the Escort Advertising forums, before moving into her current role three years ago.

Since then she has gained a fine reputation with her blogs on sex advice, sexual health and amusing news stories from around the globe. She is also a campaigner for the rights of sex workers from all over the world.

In her spare time, Lara keeps herself active by going running, and is something of a film buff. She also loves to go travelling.
Lara Mills
Follow me

Please log in here to leave a comment.