Chairwoman should replace Vaz

Chairwoman should replace Vaz

Vaz’s prostitution report chose to ignore the inequalities of the sex trade. It’s time for a chairwoman to steer this inquiry to a fair conclusion

The Women’s Equality Party is calling on the Home Affairs Select Committee to appoint a new Chairwoman to lead the next stage of its inquiry into prostitution, following the revelation that Keith Vaz, Chairman of Committee, is himself a sex buyer. The committee’s interim report, published in July, failed to recognise the harms of the sex trade and the ways in which demand for commercial sex fuels exploitation.

“It’s now clear that while leading the inquiry Keith Vaz had personal interest in maintaining the status quo,” said Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “Consequently, individuals and organisations that submitted evidence to the inquiry cannot trust that their evidence was viewed free from bias.”

Walker added: “Representation matters: this report was driven by a committee comprised of eight men and three women. The reality is that the vast majority of sex buyers are men, and the majority of those exploited by the sex trade are women.”

The Women’s Equality Party is calling for the inquiry’s final recommendations to reflect the gendered experiences of the sex trade and their impact on structural inequalities that exist between men and women across our society.

“WE are the only party in the UK calling for legislation that fully decriminalises those who sell sex but also targets demand by criminalising those who buy sex,” said Walker.

Such legislation, often referred to as the Nordic Model or the sex buyer law, also establishes specialist support and exiting services for those who sell sex.

“The Home Affairs Committee’s interim report made some welcome suggestions, such as quashing previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of women who have sold sex,” said Walker. “But it also failed to recognise the decrease in trafficking and exploitation in countries that have adopted the Nordic Model. Rather, the report dismissed the Nordic approach as being ‘based on the premise that prostitution is morally wrong’. And now we know why.”

Published Tuesday 13th September, 2016.