Marcus Philipps MP shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It was hot in the BBC studio, he could feel the perspiration running down his neck. At only 34 he was tipped as the next Home Secretary. Marcus possessed all the attributes required by a politician in the media age to reach the heights of political power. His boyish good looks and winning smile made him a hit with the electorate and, in particular the ladies. Coming from a working class background (his mother worked as a dinner lady while Marcus’s father was employed as a caretaker in the same school) it was impossible for opponents to accuse him of being out of touch with the electorate. His children attended the local comprehensive and he could often be seen in the company of his photogenic wife, Jenny travelling on public transport. Dig as they might the tabloids had failed to unearth any skeletons in Marcus’s cupboard.
“Thank you for joining us to talk about your private members bill to make paying for sex a criminal offence in Britain. Is this proposal really necessary? Its already a criminal offence for a prostitute or client to solicit in a public place. The law criminalises paying for the services of a person who has been forced into prostitution irrespective of whether the purchaser is aware that the prostitute has been coerced. Shouldn’t the government concentrate on enforcing existing legislation rather than adding yet another law to the statute book?”
Marcus leaned forward a look of outrage on his face.
“It simply isn’t acceptable in the 21st century for men to buy women and children. Slavery was abolished in the 19th century and yet it still persists in 21st century Britain. My bill would impose a fine or imprisonment on anyone paying for the sexual services of another. We must put a stop to the buying and selling of human beings”.
“But, in the words of the song doesn’t it “take two to tango? Is it really any concern of the state if two consenting adults choose to enter into a financial arrangement for the purchase of sexual services provided that the service takes place in private and not in a public place?”
“No one chooses to become a prostitute. Those engaged in sex work do so out of desperation, to pay for their drug habit. Many of the prostitutes working in our cities entered prostitution at the age of 14. Obviously 14-year-olds can’t consent to prostituting themselves. The men (and a few women) who use prostitutes are perpetuating the misery which goes with the sex industry. They are responsible in part for fueling the drug trade and the other criminality which inevitably accompanies prostitution.
All the evidence from Sweden, the first country to prohibit paying for sexual services, indicates that the introduction of the law has seen a dramatic decline in the presence of street based prostitution. This is because clients know that they risk arrest which has lead to a substancial decrease in those paying for sex”.
“Surely adult men and women who voluntarily prostitute themselves have some responsibility for their own actions? Is it right to penalise the customer while leaving the sex worker free to continue to operate?”
“It is the prostitute who is being exploited by selfish individuals who’s only concern is their own sexual gratification. Prostitutes are, in the overwhelming majority of cases victims of circumstance who possess only minimal control over their own lives. My bill will help to put a stop to modern slavery”.
“Isn’t that a bit dramatic? What about the ladies who work as professional escorts and who can earn thousands of pounds in a month?”
“That is a red herring. Those who work as escorts are a tiny percentage of prostituted men and women. I wouldn’t want my 13-year-old daughter to enter prostitution and I’m sure that the vast majority of viewers will agree with me that any legislation which can protect our young people must be supported”.
“We are out of time I am afraid. Marcus Philipps many thanks for coming into the studio”.
“Thank you for inviting me”.
The girls shivered in unison as a cold blast of wintery air blew down the alley. Bare arms many of them scarred as a result of frequent injection of heroin where wrapped around their bodies in a vain attempt to keep warm. In the depths of winter their flimsy attire (short skirts and low cut tops) indicated to anyone other than the most obtuse observer that they where ladies of the night.
The man eyed each girl intently as he sauntered past. That familiar frisson of excitement coursed through his veins. He loved his wife but married life was tedious. Indeed his whole existence ran along deeply rutted tracks which would in time take him to the pinnacle of his profession. With a prostitute he could do things which his wife would never entertain. Above all the man was able to escape from the glare of publicity and, for a brief moment let go and be himself.
The girl stood apart from the rest. Unlike most of the ladies her bare arms where smooth and unblemished. She was obviously new to the game.
“How much?” he asked.
“What do you want?”
“A full personal”.
“Sex is £50”.
Reaching into his pocket the man extracted the money and handed it to the girl. Flash bulbs popped.
“Marcus would you care to tell our readers how you square paying for sex with your proposals to criminalise those who pay for sexual services?” The young reporter asked.