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Overground Online

Debate: Should It Be Illegal to Buy Sex in England?

Last week I was reading a news story about how prostitutes were regularly brought in for ‘special visits’ at Chaseley Nursing Home in Eastbourne, Sussex, writes Rena Dipti Annobil.

Strippers were also invited to perform at the 55-bedroom home for adults made disabled by spinal injury or illness. Its former manager said the practice was partly to stop patients groping staff and explained that many residents felt ‘frustrated by a primal need they cannot fulfil’. However, East Sussex County Council has launched an investigation into possible ‘exploitation and abuse’ of vulnerable people.

Sex and disability has recently come under the spotlight in Hollywood too in a new film called The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt (below, and video above). Inspired by a true life story, Hunt plays the part of a ‘sex surrogate’ who helps a 38-year-old paralysed man.

So all this got me thinking, is it wrong to pay for sex? Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession in the world, and it’s not about to go away. In theory, it’s a service that’s in demand and it’s up to the women/men providing this service to decide if they want to make money in this way.

I say ‘in theory’ because the harsh reality is that prostitution is linked heavily to drugs and human trafficking. Many young women who enter into prostitution are vulnerable and desperate, and some of them are still children.

In addition, 2004 Home Office statistics show that 70 per cent of those involved in street prostitution have a history of Local Authority care, and nearly half report a history of childhood sexual abuse. There are also countless cases of violence against prostitutes.

In the UK, there have been endless debates about whether we should adopt ‘prostitution laws’ like the Netherlands or Germany. I could write a whole thesis on this, but all I’ll say is after working on a drama project with a charity that supports female sex workers, I can understand how legalisation would help to protect these women. And I would wholeheartedly support it.

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Tags Sex, drugs, england, Germany, rena dipti annobil, prostitution laws, home office, legislation, the sessions, hollywood film, helen hunt, netherlands, ireland, scotland, wales, trafficking, East Sussex County Council, Chaseley Nursing Home, Eastbourne
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