The UK is revising its prostitution laws to make it a crime to purchase sex from a woman who has been "trafficked" with lack of knowledge of the woman's status not a defense. It is important to know as background to this that some forms of prostitution are legal in the UK, with the framework similar, but not the same as, that in Canada.
In thinking about the likely effects of the new law, my mind turned to laws against buying stolen property. Presumably there is some standard here that protects innocent consumers while not shielding knowing ones. Here is one legal website - probably not the best one. It suggests something like a reasonable person test. If you buy something at Macy's, you should be able to rely on it not being stolen. If you buy it from a guy in a truck by the side of the road who keeps looking suspiciously at every passing car, and you pay about 10 percent of the market price, you do not have a reasonable expectation that the good is not stolen.
The article suggests that the Brits do not intend to have such a reasonable person test, though one suspects that is how the law will evolve in any case. The article notes that there have not been any prosecutions in Finland, which has a similar law. At the same time, the law should be a boon to native British sellers of sex and a bane to those who, without being trafficked, come from lower income places within the EU to make some money. Perhaps it will be challenged under the EU's rules prohibiting trade restraints against other EU members?
It is interesting and somewhat surprising that the "English Collective of Prostitutes" (imagine those meetings) oppose the new rules to indirectly limit their competition. The new rules should raise market prices generally, which should reduce the quantity demanded of paid sex and increase the quantity demanded of substitutes, such as sex with unpaid female companions found in bars and on places like match.com. As such, the net public health effect may be a negative one, to the extent that prostitutes are more likely to use protection.
It's really quite easy.
1 year ago