In light of this, it is important to challenge the myth that prostitution is work and instead recognise it for what it really is – an oppressive system which exploits women which men benefit from. To do so, we must move away from the approach which legalises and normalises the purchase of sex and instead adopt the Nordic Model which criminalises those who purchase prostituted women and girls, while decriminalising those involved in the sex industry. This approach recognises prostitution as a form of gender-based violence against women and provides support for those who wish to exit the industry, rather than punishing them for their involvement.
The Nordic Model has been effective in reducing levels of prostitution across countries such as Sweden, Norway and Iceland with some studies suggesting prostitution levels have reduced by up to 50%. This demonstrates its potential effectiveness in other countries including Britain where it could be introduced into law. We must also focus on efforts to allow and enable women to escape the sex industry. There should be a duty on the state to provide viable exit strategies including housing, work, education and social support.
In conclusion, while some may argue that prostitution is a viable job option for those in poverty, it should not be seen as such as this denies its true nature – a form of sexual exploitation of women by men. The cost is high given the risk of rape, sexual violence and PTSD. Instead we should challenge this myth by adopting the Nordic Model which criminalises those who purchase sex while decriminalising those involved as prostitutes and providing support for exiting the industry. Through doing so we can help reduce levels of sexual exploitation across Britain and around the world.