Free Church Responds to Scottish Government's Equally Safe Consultation

December 10, 2020

The Free Church has submitted a response to a consultation from the  Scottish Government in respect of the  Equally Safe framework[1] , a strategy to eradicate violence against women. The consultation[2] seeks views on how best to challenge men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland, to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and to support women involved to exit from it. 

In our response, the Free Church of Scotland commends the Scottish Government’s ‘Equally Safe’ strategy recognising that prostitution is a form of violence against women. As Christians, we believe all human beings have inherent dignity and value, having been made in the image of God and accordingly we have a duty to speak up for the vulnerable and exploited. However, while we support the Equally Safe strategy, we do not believe that Scotland’s current approach to prostitution is sufficient to prevent VAWG (Violence Against Women & Girls).

We think that the approach known as the “Nordic Model” would go a long way to address these problems. This model has three strands: (i) it decriminalises those who are prostituted; (ii) it offers prostitutes high-quality support and exiting services, including genuine routes out; and (iii) it makes buying people for sex a criminal offence. This last point reduces the demand that drives trafficking and prostitution. We would emphasise, however, that for the Nordic model to be effective in combating VAWG, it is vital that all three strands of the model are adopted.

As Christians, we also believe the Nordic Model is consistent with the teaching of the Bible. In the Old Testament prostitution was unacceptable and fathers were condemned for selling their daughters into prostitution, (Leviticus 19:29), nevertheless the Old Testament challenges treating prostitutes as stereotypes and treats them as real people—daughters, mothers, sisters – worthy of dignity and respect.

This is then the attitude that Jesus brings to those he encounters. Jesus welcomes outcasts, tax collectors and prostitutes stating that they are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of religious leaders (Matthew 21:28-32). Jesus was not here endorsing the validity of prostitution as a lifestyle, but he was implicitly rejecting the idea that prostitutes were inherently worthless and was welcoming repentant prostitutes into the kingdom of God. He sought to restore them.

As Christians we see many principles in the Bible which we believe lead us to support the Nordic Model of decriminalising women engaging in prostitution, treating them as the victims, whilst making a strong statement that the behaviour is wrong by criminalising the buyers and the third parties who profit from their prostitution. We also note the desire of Jesus to help women escape prostitution, welcoming them into the kingdom of God while extending mercy and forgiveness to them as they are called to make a new life.

View our full response here.