Decriminalise Sex Work, Urges Royal College of Nursing

Decriminalise Sex Workers And Clients, Urges Royal College of Nursing

A sexual health specialist who helped trigger the Royal College Nursing’s lobbying efforts to decriminalise prostitution is urging against the adoption of the ‘Nordic Model’ – a policy which purports to only punish clients. 

The Royal College of Nursing last night (May 20) voted in favour of lobbying the government to decriminalise prostitution in order to protect the health and welfare of sex workers.

The motion was tabled by clinical nurse Louise Cahill, a sexual health specialist, who told the union’s packed Liverpool conference centre that the law as it stands “forces them into riskier situations” and leaves them exposed to violence.

“This is a fundamental human rights issue,” Ms Cahill told RightsInfo today. “It comes down to the right to self-determination with your own body.”

‘Criminalising Clients Gives Them More Power Over Workers’

Mr Cahill told RightsInfo of her discontent with the ‘Nordic Model‘, a policy which claims to punish the buyers of sex work while purporting to decriminalise sex workers themselves.

Implemented in Sweden for more than 20 years, it was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2015 and is supported by a small but vocal group of campaigners, religious groups, and some MPs.

Ms Cahill told RightsInfo that the policy “doesn’t impact the number of sex workers because it fails to understand that people who enter the sex industry do so because of socio-economic reasons”.

“[These socio-economic reasons] will not be impacted by a reduced in demand,” she said.

She added: “Evidence from France, Ireland and other countries which have the Nordic Model, has shown that criminalising clients gives them more power over workers not less.

“This means that workers are forced into riskier situations.”

“The consequence has been been a significant increase in violence against sex workers, an increase in HIV and other STIs,” she continued.

The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), a national organisation of sex workers fighting for decriminalisation, commended the RCN’s decision.

Cari Mitchell, spokeswoman for the ECP and former nurse, said: “We commend the RCN for its support for decriminalisation of sex work and look forward to continuing our work with them to improve sex workers’ safety and health.”

Main Image Credit: Louise Cahill.

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About the Author

Aaron Walawalkar

News and Digital Editor
Aaron is an NCTJ-accredited multimedia journalist focussing on human rights. His extensive reporting on rough sleeping in east London has been nominated for multiple awards. He has worked for regional and national newspapers and produced illustrations, infographics and videos for humanitarian organisation RedR UK. View all posts by Aaron Walawalkar.
Decriminalise Sex Workers And Clients, Urges Royal College of Nursing
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