A former prostitute has called for buying sex to be criminalised, telling how the current system allows men to buy women as if they were “renting a film”.
Diane Martin spoke out as the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference debated a motion calling for prostitution to be decriminalised at the same time as the purchase of sex is made illegal.
She told activists at the party conference in Hamilton how her experience of the trade had been “at the supposed high end”, but she added: “To to me there is no high end of prostitution”.
She stated: “I experienced exploitation through prostitution in my late teens in London, and then I was trafficked to a prostitution ring overseas.
“I went from being a happy, trusting girl to finding myself standing in a penthouse being overlooked by a madam.”
She continued: “The feeling of stress is what I remember the most about being involved in prostitution, going through a door and wondering what state I would be in when I came out, waiting to be picked like something off a shelf, the observing and dissecting, being the commodity everyone in the room knew you to be.
“For men prostitution is like renting a film, with the power to write the entire script. They’re the director, they’re the star, you’re the prop. That was my experience.”
She described being raped by a man who “showed me his gun and asked me if my mum knew where I was – she didn’t and I was very far from home”.
And she insisted: “Being in a penthouse suite doesn’t soften the blow of rape or having someone leave bitemarks all over your face.”
She urged the party to back a motion calling on the Scottish Government to decriminalise prostitution and make the purchase of sex illegal.
“We have a choice to open our eyes to the realities of prostitution and apply more than a harm reduction band aid,” Ms Martin said.
Jacci Stoyle, who also spoke in favour of the motion, said prostitution was “ubiquitous” across Scotland.
She said: “Street prostitution is only 10% of the market.
“Like an iceberg, most prostitution is hidden away behind closed doors. It is ubiquitous across the whole of Scotland, advertised online through a variety of means.
“On punter websites they can select their purchase like any other product. Should they wish, they can order a women like a pizza and review her performance like any other commodity.”
Party members at the conference voted against the motion, with Liberal Democrat activist Caron Lindsay arguing that “at the very least, we should have the liberty to use our bodies in the way that we wish”.
She stated: “As Liberals we have a huge respect for individuals and their right to make their own choices – they may not be the ones we would make but frankly that is not our business.”