Church Leaders Letter to First Minister

Church leaders and other representatives of faith groups in Scotland have signed a letter to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, calling for the Scottish Government to criminalise the purchase of sex, following the model that many Nordic countries have adopted. The Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group believes that reducing the demand for commercial sex reduces the trafficking for sexual exploitation into countries that adopt it.


The text of the letter is shown below:


Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister of Scotland
St. Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Sent via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Dear First Minister

Modern slavery in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.

We support the Scottish Government's practical action and initiative to help eradicate modern slavery and congratulate you for introducing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament.

However, we believe that there is an important element missing from the Bill and would urge you to consider supporting an amendment. The Northern Ireland Assembly passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act 2014 in December. This includes the provision for the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services – sometimes known as the Sex Buyer Law or the Nordic model. This legislation was first passed in Sweden in 1999 and has been proven to be a positive way forward in terms of reducing levels of human trafficking and the exploitation involved in prostitution. Following its success in Sweden, this approach has been adopted in Norway, Iceland, Canada, and now Northern Ireland. It is being considered by parliament in France. It would be good to see Scotland incorporating the Nordic model, with a funding package supporting women to leave prostitution, into its anti-trafficking legislation.

Sex trafficking does not just exist because its victims are vulnerable - it exists because there is a demand for commercial sex that traffickers can exploit and profit from. The Nordic model effectively curbs demand and consequently reduces the trafficking for sexual exploitation into the countries that adopt it. Lord Morrow MLA is quoted as saying: 'I do not believe the problem of trafficking can be seriously tackled if we do not take this measure.'

Please give this proposal your careful consideration and support. We believe it would be an important contribution to tackling modern slavery.

Yours sincerely

Prof Hazel Watson
Convener, Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group

Salah Beltagui
Member of the Muslim Council of Scotland (signing in a personal capacity)

Rt Rev Joseph Toal
Bishop of Motherwell, Scottish Catholic Bishop's Conference

Rev Mitchell Bunting,
United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland

Dr Pam Cairns,
Scotland North Regional President, Soroptimist International
Chair of SIGBI (Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Modern Day Slavery, Resolution Steering Group

Dr Elaine Cameron,
Newsletter Editor, International Anglican Women's Network Steering Group

Rt Rev John C. Chalmers,
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Most Revd David Chillingworth,
Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Rev Alan Donaldson
General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland

Rt Rev Gregor Duncan
Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, Scottish Episcopal Church

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton
Convener of the Church and Society Council, the Church of Scotland

Rt Revd Robert Gillies,
Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Scottish Episcopal Church

Sister Margaret Hastings
Roman Catholic Church Representative on the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group

Heartlands Ministry Team: St Mary's Port Glasgow, St Fillan's Kilmacolm, St Mary's Bridge of Weir (Scottish Episcopal Church) –
Revd Robert Chambers
Revd David Gifford
Gerard McKeown
Gillian Roger
Maureen Russell

Rev John Humphreys,
United Reformed Church (signing in a personal capacity)

Rev Dr Helen Jenkins,
Acting Superintendent, Edinburgh and Forth Methodist Circuit

Mrs Ravinder Kaur Nijjar,
Sikh Community (Scotland)
Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network

Kay Keith,
National Convener of the Church of Scotland Guild

Dr Donald Macdonald.
Convener of the Church and Society Committee of the United Free Church of Scotland

Pamala McDougall
Member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Hilary Moran,
Communications and Fundraising Rep, Mothers' Union Glasgow and Galloway Diocese

Rev David Miller
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland

Marie O'Dea

Rt Revd Kevin Pearson,
Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Scottish Episcopal Church

Rt Revd Dr Nigel Peyton
Bishop of Brechin, Scottish Episcopal Church

Jean Richardson,
Provincial President, Mothers' Union, Scotland

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts
Assistant to the Secretary for Scotland, The Salvation Army

Sister Isabel Smyth SND OBE,
Member of the Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Rt Revd Mark Strange
Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, Scottish Episcopal Church

Dr Jacci Stoyle,
Scottish Episcopal Church Representative on the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group

Stuart Weir,
National Director, CARE for Scotland

Jean Urquhart,
Chair of the Interfaith Group on Domestic Abuse Scotland

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