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ACT NOW - Tell Edinburgh Council to stop licensing brothels

This Wednesday 7th November, eleven 'saunas', or tolerated (but illegal) brothels in Edinburgh are due to have their licenses renewed. We are asking those who want to see an end to sexual exploitation in Scotland's Capital to write to the members of the committee to ask them not to relicense these 'entertainment venues' which they know are operating as brothels.

Please feel free to use our template letter, below, and add in your own personal comments. It would also be really useful to us to know how many people write to the committee - you can send us a copy of your letter at info@zerotolerance.org.uk (seperately rather than copying us in); we won't give your details to anyone else.

Thanks for taking action.



I am writing to ask you not to grant renewed licenses to the eleven saunas that will go before the licensing sub-committee on 7th November.

Add your own bit here – is there a sauna near you? Are there issues with feeling safe, answering your children’s questions about it, disturbance caused by clients?

In addition to my concerns stated above, I object to saunas for four main reasons:

1. Licensing saunas on the tacit understanding that they function as brothels contravenes Scottish law. It allows the owners to pursue brothel-keeping as a commercial enterprise which is an offence.

2. It sanctions the exploitation of mostly very vulnerable women (and some men) through sexual exploitation. Prostitution is not a choice for the women involved; it is chosen for them by poverty, drug or childhood abuse; and by men who buy sex. Repeat engagement in unwanted sex can lead to substance abuse and a broad range of serious mental and physical health problems. Nine out of 10 women in prostitution wish to exit. Sexual exploitation is closely connected to other forms of gender-based violence such as domestic abuse and is defined as a form of violence against women by the Scottish Government (‘Safer Lives, Changed Lives’).

3. It contributes to gender inequality. Condoning sexual exploitation in Edinburgh does not keep women safe. It perpetuates gender inequality and promotes the idea that women’s bodies are and should be available for men’s use. It promotes the idea that consent to sex can be bought, which undermines efforts elsewhere to promote healthy sexual relationships based on free agreement and mutual respect.

4. It is time for a change. Not that long ago, domestic abuse and sexual violence were seen as ‘inevitable’. Edinburgh has done great work to change these attitudes and this has made Edinburgh a safer and more equal city. Prostitution, as happens in saunas, is another form of gender-based violence which is not inevitable. The council changing its long-standing policy of tolerating prostitution in Edinburgh would be a significant step forward in changing attitudes.

I urge you to stop turning a blind eye to the harm caused by saunas and to decide against renewal of these licenses.



Contact details for the committee:

Cllr Gavin Barrie (Convenor): gavin.barrie@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Angela Blacklock (Vice Convenor): angela.blacklock@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Elaine Aitken: elaine.aitken@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Steve Burgess: steve.burgess@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Ronald Cairns: ronald.cairns@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Nick Gardner: nick.gardner@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Bill Henderson: bill.r.henderson@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Dominic Heslop: dominic.heslop@edinburgh.gov.uk
Cllr Vicki Redpath: vicki.redpath@edinburgh.gov.uk




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