LONDON – Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart has reiterated the government’s intent to affect a major crackdown on prostitution and has said that though the issue was on a backburner, it was not abandoned.
“I’m not tolerant of the view that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and there’s nothing we can do to reduce it,” Ms Mactaggart was quoted as saying on The Guardian. “Prostitution blights communities. We will take a zero tolerance approach to kerb crawling.”
The Tony Blair government had asked for a consultation on the issue of prostitution and the then home secretary David Blunkett had proposed setting up licensed “red light” areas where prostitutes could carry on the sex trade. But Ms Mactaggart said that this plan was no longer being debated upon and that the whole operation would be banned altogether.
“”Men who choose to use prostitutes are indirectly supporting drug dealers and abusers. The power to confiscate driving licenses already exists. We want the police to use that power more,” she said. “It is a form of child abuse – most women who are prostitutes started being prostitutes at the age of 13 or 14 and we have got to have strong mechanisms to reduce prostitution.” She added that she could not accept the premise that prostitution was the oldest profession and must be allowed to be a part of the society.
However, campaigners are not so sure that the government’s crackdown is beneficial to the prostitutes, Carrie Mitchell, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, said that banning prostitution in Sweden had resulted in compounding the misery of the women who lived on it, “Neither the poverty that forces women into prostitution to support themselves and their families – or any of the grave injustices in the existing legislation – have been addressed,” she alleged, adding that the government was missing the point entirely in embarking on this “zero tolerance” policy.
Mark Oaten, the home affairs spokesman of the Liberal Democrats said that the announcement was a rehash of earlier proclamations, “Prostitution is likely to remain Britain’s oldest profession and the most effective approach to the problem will require managing it rather than attempting to completely end it,” he observed.