The policy motion about safer sex work is an interesting topic to debate especially as fifty-five victims of human trafficking were identified in Scotland last year.

The conference will be concerned about solicitation and sex workers being forced into isolated areas where they are more at danger of sexual and physical violence. This is all fair and well but surely this is a concern of human trafficking too?
The definition of human trafficking  is the movement of persons for the purpose of exploitation, which often leads to what is known as modern day slavery. It’s usually the most vulnerable people who become trapped. There are four main forms of human trafficking they are forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and deprivation. This motion concerns sexual exploitation a form of human trafficking but is only mentioned as a concern by Conference and then later as promoting solutions to combat international trafficking. Decriminalising sex work is going to cause more harm than good. Traffickers who want to exploit men or women into sexual exploitation would find it easier if this motion was passed and therefore victims would find it difficult to be rescued.

The motion argues:
Approaches which criminalise the purchase of sexual services but not, overtly, the workers themselves, criminalise otherwise law abiding people and divert criminal justice resources away from serious harms in society, including young people in care homes at risk of grooming, victims of trafficking, migrant workers in domestic and sometimes sexual servitude.

Recently there have been more news stories human trafficking; the Liberal Democrats are saying they need to have more solutions to international trafficking but what exactly are they? Working with Ugly Mugs campaign, Merseyside Model is fine, but what about working with national organisations such as Stop the Traffik or Walk Free etc? I know that Catherine Bearder MEP and Lynne Featherstone do work to combat human trafficking but clear guidelines must be set out about how to combat this as it relates to sex work. I feel this motion may cause more harm than good and leave more victims to violence and sexual exploitation.

The Nordic Model

The Nordic Model that works to prevent prostitution, conference suggests that this model does not make any women safer. It’s great that the Working Group are going to create an updated version of the policy paper that deals with the issue of sex work in the 21st Century. Although creating an updating policy paper of sex work is important, I think the Group should also incorporate the issues surrounding human trafficking in the policy paper as both issues are interlinked. By working with human trafficking organisations such as Stop the Traffik, Walk Free, Unseen and Anti-Slavery Day will also help improve how society can protect women or men who have been victims of sex work through sexual exploitation.

There are several places around the country in which people are trafficking in to then be forced into sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and deprivation an example of one of these places is Kent. Whilst at University I ran a society called University of Kent Against Human Trafficking we understood that because we were closely situated to the channel port Dover, several victims would be trafficking that through this border and then transported across the country via other transport links. Hence, Stop the Traffik set up the Taxi Campaign that allowed taxi drivers to become more aware of the signs of passengers who had been trafficked. Canterbury City Council is now implementing this Campaign and all taxi drivers will under go training once they pass their tests. Campaigns like this are vital to prevent human trafficking; therefore it is crucial that the Liberal Democrats work with a variety of organisations not only to make sex work safer but to also help victims of human trafficking across the country.


JFY Advocate Dipa Vaya is twenty years old and lives in London. She is currently in her second year studying Politics at the University of Kent. She has studied Print Based Media at College and has written articles for the university newspaper Inquire, Look Magazine and local newspapers. She is committed to raising human trafficking awareness on campus.