Compromising with the Nordic Model

Published on: Sep 19, 2014 @ 13:31

When is a Compromise not a Compromise

Suing For Damages Under Nordic Model

I do not see legislative compromise as impossible, in the context of any jurisdiction.

I do not care what legislation is passed to shut up the rich and powerful combined abolitionist lobbies on condition that the right of adult sex workers to autonomy, self determination and a market from which to derive a living is respected equally. It does not even matter how many predatory, unscrupulous and totally superfluous NGOs are funded to “rescue” sex workers through huge salaries and junketing as long as sex workers are free to reject them without coercion through negative interference with their income and working conditions. This can be achieved very simply by appending the following to any legislation:

  • Exemption from prosecution for sex workers and sex buyers within street based exemption zones, with zero tolerance for criminal activity of any kind, from any party within those zones.
  • Exemption from prosecution for licenced indoor sex workers and their clients. With a one time three month grace period before a licence is required to avoid compliance unintentionally serving to pressure individuals to committing to indoor sex work.
  • No interference in licenced sex workers working together.
  • No prosecution for business premises licenced for sex work.
  • No prosecution for private landlords who rent to sex workers at the usual going rate for accommodation in the area.
  • The right to evict a sex worker from privately rented accommodation with 48 hours notice unless the premises are her main residence (bearing in mind that the use of a private premises for business often represents an exemption in itself)
  • The legalization of advertising of sex work on condition there is no charge made to the advertiser – (this last is essential in Ireland to break the monopoly of Escort Ireland which has, ironically, been significantly enhanced by proposed Nordic Model legislation and now has a very sinister potential indeed. I feel confident a similar pattern has been repeated in other countries).

If implemented, I believe the above will ensure that sex workers are accorded the same rights and freedoms as any other person regardless of the legislation to which they are appended. They will also leave the way open for sex worker lead regulation of a more transparent sex industry, and facilitate good relations between sex workers and the authorities where Nordic Model legislation alone destroys that.

All comment welcome with open arms, but remember, what I am looking for here is not an ideal world (sadly) but a compromise it would be hard, or even impossible for any government or organisation to argue against successfully except with naked bigotry and spite.

Please feel free to send these suggestions, hopefully with your own amendments to any elected representative, or other, you deem appropriate. I submitted the main points to the Joint Oireachtas Committee and the Department of Justice long ago.

Submission to Joint Oireachtas Committee

Draft policy sex work (Short Version)


6 thoughts on “Compromising with the Nordic Model

  1. While i find the recommendations very interesting and pro-safety for sex workers , i can’t find where the compromise with the essence of the Nordic Model ie. criminalise the purchasers whilst ahem,’decriminalising’ the sellers .

    Worth sending to the Minister methinks though one can only imagine its likeliehood of grave thought…..

    • I was raised not to compromise with “crazy” :o)

      But, apart from that I am all for criminalizing the buyers and not the sellers *OUTSIDE* the stated exemptions (but I would say that, wouldn’t I?), though, in the real world I am rather afraid bilateral criminalization outside the exemption zones would be a better fit with other aspects of Constitutional and other law in most jurisdictions, and a price worth paying for reactionary and religious support to avert blanket Nordic Model criminalization, that may not criminalise the sellers of sex but makes their lives impossible in other ways, often more so than full criminalization because of it’s socially and personally invasive aspects.

      The key to the exemptions is .the principle of healthy assertion…asserting your own rights while leaving everyone else the space to assert theirs equally too.

  2. I like the law in the Union Kingdom which effectively criminalises the purchaser of sex from someone in prostitution involuntarily, regardless if the purchaser knew. A strict liability law.
    Almost all the headline cases from the abolitionist movement go on about terrible things happening to under-aged prostitutes, so a possible compromise would be an extension of strict liability laws to cover those paying for sex with anyone under-aged as well as anyone coerced or trafficked, while not criminalising the seller in these cases.

    On the other hand, the law which absolutely forbids prostitutes to share premises for safety and practicality has to go, imv, and as you suggest local governments should be allowed to licence them.

    • I am very wary of “strict liability” laws of any kind as, being without clear mens rea, they are so wide open to misapplication and abuse.

      I used survival sex (NOT sex for money. I had a really morbid dread of that which was a bit daft considering what I did instead) to get food and accommodation between the ages of 13 and 16 and I know there was no way on earth anyone could have known I was underage and that I was far from the only one that applied to, so I always prefer some form of liability in terms of what a “reasonable man” could have been expected to guess or realize.

      I also get very confused because I am sure that any sex I had underage created a very serious offence 40 years ago (and ever since), and I would always have assumed that if I had sold sex instead the offence would be identical (now I think of it I have absolutely no idea if I would have been guilty of an offence for selling sex underage, I just know it was unheard of for anyone to be prosecuted for it, not that it mattered when the care system treated us like criminals anyway!), so it seems to me that buying sex from a minor is such a serious offence already that a specific law against the purchase of sex with a minor is a bit like making shoplifting from a supermarket a separate offence to shoplifting from a shop with counter service.

      Am I wrong about that? If so can someone put me straight?

      (All activities connected to procuring and pimping a minor for sex MUST be treated with at least the same severity as rape even where the perpetrator has never had any sexual contact with the minor.)

      To me coercion is a similar position. To have sex with a person who is coerced is (and MUST be) a very serious offence called “rape” and not a lot of people realize that the offence of rape legally extends to situations where the threat is more blackmail than physical. I see that we need a separate offence for coercing a woman to have sex with a third party, because that could get very grey and fuzzy under existing rape laws, but I cannot, for the life of me see why that does not also need to apply to situations where no money changes hands. Why on earth should offences of sexual coercion and abuse be limited by whether money changes hands at all?

      Making it an offence to have sex with anyone who is trafficked separate to coercion worries the daylights out of me as so many jurisdictions already operate, or edge towards operating, a definition of “trafficked” that includes any migrant sex worker and even, in some cases, any sex worker at all. “Internal trafficking” seems the next new buzz phrase and could include anyone sex worker who catches a bus to work instead of walking.

      Would we be better off focusing on offenses based on the degree of sexual abuse, coercion and harm independent of whether money was involved? I know under laws governing violence there is already a structure laid down in most jurisdictions for distinguishing violence for gain from violence for sheer badness, but is it really so much worse to violently coerce your wife your wife into having sex with other men for your sick kicks (as happened to a friend of mine) than for money?

      There is a reflex that says “OF COURSE IT IS!” until you look at it from the point of view of a woman violently coerced without money and realize making that a lesser offence is to insult her.

  3. In your opinion,how would the process of licensing practically apply? Does an escort contact a division wiythin the HSE or DoJ for an interview ? What is the criteria for p’passing’ an interview? What happens to those women who fail the interview in terms of a ‘perceived’ lack of independence or free will? Who would the interviewers be?

    Find the proposals very interesting and certainly have merit,at least on the surface.
    Authorities would have contact with the sex sellers at the outset( with the contact to help those who want to exit if necessary) ;clients would know who has been officially vetted and so is working of free will so demand would be steered towards independent escorts ; such provisions would reduce the agencies which facilitate foreign women into prostituion re accomodation , transport etc.

    Definitely has the skeleton of an interesting model ; quasi legalisation / nordic type. Definitely has potential but would need to liase with similarly minded SWs/SWAI to meet up with Clare Daly et al to communictae with DoJ / MoJ.

    • When I think of licensing I am thinking of something much more mundane, rather like applying for a hackney licence, or a shotgun licence except that it needs to be based on a truly unique identifier like a finger print (no harm switching shotgun licence to same system), rather than name, and I think there are enough dodgy things homing in on the sex industry without inviting the HSE to join them! It seems to be something best dealt with through Gardaí as the frontline (also helping to establish a positive relationship) and the local councils administratively.

      I know there are arguments against using fingerprints, but they can be spot checked in front of anyone without using real names and kept strictly for that purpose and destroyed when the licence is cancelled. Besides, if we want to see sex work as work we might prefer to avoid it being the last refuge of wanted criminals!

      I would avoid tying licences to taxation simply to maximize the uptake…BUT…any sex worker who wants legal status WITHOUT paying taxes is taking the p*ss! Indoor workers generally earn far more money than most people who pay taxes.

      Incidentally, I must stress that I would not see licences as required to use street exemption zones. Let them be and function as a grey area for survival sex workers with no questions asked as long as they do not abuse the exemption zones for lawbreaking activities. I would also see street work as tax exempt because there is absolutely no excuse for the state to take money from survival sex workers who are selling sex because they need money that badly, not because they want to.. I can see a possibility of taxing clients to use exemption zones, something like parking tickets perhaps? A ticket you buy from a machine at a cost of €5 or €10 and can be arrested without? Why not?

      The object of licences is not to eradicate abuses I n itself, but to make it possible to keep track of sex workers and protect them from exploitation as well as limiting the aspects of sex work perceived as anti-social to the wider society,

      I already submitted the exemption suggestions to the Joint Oireachtas Committee and the Department of Justice (I will link submission from article). I am posting them in public, not just for discussion , but also so that people may be aware of possibilities that have been ignored and exempted from all discussion. I am certain I am not the only person who made suggestions along these lines. It is very strange that nobody who did was called to give evidence at all.

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