Prostitution laws need to be rethought due to the ‘inadequacy’ of current regulations, according to a Sheffield MP.
In a speech to Sheffield University’s law school, Meg Munn said legal changes are needed to better protect women vulnerable to exploitation.
The Sheffield Heeley MP’s comments come after a rise in reports of sex workers in Sheffield city centre. A total of 56 reports of sex workers were made between April 2013 and March 2014 – up 166 per cent from 21 in the previous year.
Ms Munn, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on prostitution and the global sex trade, said current policy needs to be examined.
She said: “Loopholes allow men to escape prosecutions for abusing girls as young as 12, and women are trafficked into the country to be repeatedly raped.
“Furthermore, policing and enforcement is unevenly prioritised and resourced across the country, with a few exceptions only made possible through extraordinary leadership at a local level.
“This can trap women in cycles of abuse and prevent them exiting prostitution.”
“Irrespective of the positive steps taken over recent years to help those exploited in prostitution, in practice those who sell sexual services continue to carry the burden of criminality, despite being those most vulnerable to coercion and violence.
“This serves to normalise the purchase and stigmatise the sale of sexual services, and undermines efforts to minimise entry into and promote exits from prostitution.”