Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart has welcomed new laws threatening to fine men who pay to have sex with prostitutes.
But Ms Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) also urged the Government to go even further – and simply make using the services of a prostitute illegal.
Residents in her constituency have led long-running campaigns against prostitution and kerb crawling in areas such as Balsall Heath and Rotten Park Road, off Hagley Road.
Jacqui Smith (Lab Redditch), the Home Secretary, has announced plans to make it a crime for men to pay prostitutes who have been trafficked into the country, or who are coerced by a pimp.
It will be no defence to claim they did not know the woman’s circumstances. In practice, using a prostitute will carry a risk of prosecution unless the customers knows for certain that they are working willingly.
The law on kerb crawling, which is already illegal, is also to be tightened up, with police encouraged to prosecute kerb-crawlers for a first offence rather than giving a warning as now.
Ms Stuart welcomed the changes but urged Ministers to consider going further and simply making paying for sex illegal.
She said: “I would rather live in a world where prostitution didn’t happen, and anything that tightens up the law is a good thing.
“What the Government has announced is focused on protecting the most vulnerable women, who have not chosen prostitution as a career. This has to be high up the list of priorities.
“I do believe we should keep the law under review and consider going further. Sweden has simply made the use of prostitution illegal, and it has been successful there. At the end of the day I think paying for sex is a grubby trade.”
The Government is also to change the licensing laws giving councils the power to prevent new lap-dancing clubs opening, in a victory for MPs such as Lynda Waltho (Lab Stourbridge) who have been calling for the change.
Asked why she was not proposing an outright ban on prostitution, Ms Smith she said: “I accept that there are some women that make the argument that they have a free choice to engage in this. What I am concerned about, and what I think the Government’s responsibility is too, is to those ... pretty large number of women involved in prostitution who are vulnerable, forced into it, who have been trafficked into this country.”
Ms Smith said it will be an offence for a man to pay for sex if the prostitute has been trafficked and he could be liable to a fine of £1,000.
She said: “I hope people will think twice about the nature of prostitution, about the fact there are women who are forced and coerced into it in this country.”