In December, the Scottish Government introduced the draft Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill. Zero Tolerance welcomes the Scottish Government’s firm commitment to tackling this complex and important issue that causes considerable human suffering.
In February Zero Tolerance submitted our response to the draft bill to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee. In this response, we:
Supported the placing of a duty on Scottish Ministers to secure the provision of relevant support and recovery services for victims of trafficking (VoTs), including specialist support services for women victims of trafficking for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.
Sought clarification on when that support would start and emphasised that it should continue for as long as the victim requires.
Reaffirmed our support for a strong non-prosecution clause implemented for those VoTs who have been found guilty of criminal offences related to their experiences of being trafficked.
Pushed for an emphasis on safe returns for those who are unable to remain indefinitely in the UK and are at risk of re-victimisation.
Supported the establishment of statutory aggravations to any criminal offence connected with human trafficking in order to recognise its role in perpetuating human suffering.
Urged the Scottish Parliament to consider the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill in its wider context of the sex industry and men’s demand for prostitution, and make paying for sex a criminal offence, while selling sex is decriminalised.
We know that the coercion and control that can take place for VoTs exists within the wider context of gender inequality. Various social and economic structures can disempower women and constrain their choices. But this issue isn’t unique to human trafficking; there is evidence which shows that women and children exploited in prostitution through Scotland are under pressure of poverty, addiction, homelessness, domestic abuse and coercion and multiple disadvantages, including direct coercion, threats, deceit or abuse of a position of vulnerability.
We strongly believe that any legislative change must be accompanied by the provision of sustainable support and exiting services for people exploited through human trafficking and prostitution, and backed by licensing laws which recognise the interrelated nature of the sex industry, such as the Sexual Entertainment
Venues licensing regime now being considered in the Air Weapons (and Licensing) (Scotland) Bill which is currently progressing through Parliament.
Click here to read the full text of our submission. Oral evidence sessions will be taken by the Justice Committee throughout March. To follow the progress of the bill, please visit the Scottish Parliament website.