A public consultation has been launched in an attempt to reduce men’s demand for prostitution and stop the harm caused by the sex trade.

The Scottish Government survey also wants opinions on how to promote positive and healthy attitudes to relationships among young people.

Its aim is to gather views on how best to challenge men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland, reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit. The paper invites views from those who work in the sector to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, support women and those who may have lived experience, as well as statutory bodies, to help inform the development of future approaches to prostitution in Scotland.

Community Safety Minister, Ash Denham, said: “The Scottish Government supports measures to help reduce the harms caused by prostitution. Scotland’s ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, co-owned with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, outlines our ambition for everyone to be equally safe and respected – where women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse and the attitudes that perpetuate that.

“Men have a critical role in challenging violence, including reducing the demand for prostitution. It is vital that we break down gender norms, stand up to the normalisation of harmful behaviours and work together to achieve greater gender equality in our society – something which will benefit all of us, our families and communities.

“This is an opportunity for everyone with an interest and with insights to help inform future policy decisions about how we address this form of gendered violence, protect the human rights and dignity of women and improve their outcomes.”

Linda Thompson, who represents the Encompass Network, an organisation that supports people working in the sex industry, said: “We welcome this consultation for the opportunities it gives for discussion and exploration on how Scotland can improve consistent prevention, harm reduction and support for women involved along with clear approaches to support women who want to leave.

“We are pleased to note the framing of the consultation within wider inequalities with links with factors that push women towards this form of violence against women and girls.”

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for responses is 10 December 2020.