I've been having an exchange with Indy on a previous thread about the discriminatory Swedish law on prostitution, and as my latest reply was several light-years over the character limit, I though I might as well devote a fresh post to it! Indy had said -
"In Scotland both buying and selling sex is illegal as I understand it..."
Not so - in fact, the opposite of that statement is true. All sorts of things associated with prostitution are currently outlawed (kerb-crawling, overt advertising of sexual services, etc.) but the actual buying and selling of sex behind closed doors is perfectly legal. In fact, it's so legal, it's taxed. The Trish Godman proposal to import the Swedish law would change that, criminalising only the buyer, while perversely leaving the seller with no responsibility whatever for what would by then be regarded as an illegitimate transaction, even when that person is acting completely independently.
"In the first place the Belle De Jour type of prostitute (if she really exists)..."
If by "Belle de Jour type of prostitute" you simply mean someone working through free choice and without coercion, yes of course they exist, and in considerable numbers. For example, see this open letter to Holyrood from one such person -
"My name is Laura and I am an independent escort. I am not pimped, coerced or working under duress in any way. I am not labouring under any addiction, nor am I the product of an abusive background. I have been a sex worker for some 16 years and it’s fair to say I love my job.
The first part of Trish Godman’s opening statement makes for interesting reading ;
“People who buy sex do so of their own free will, whereas the majority of prostitutes are unwilling participants in this exchange of cash for sex.”
Of what “majority” does she speak, exactly ? Over the years I have met women working at every level of the sex industry and in fact, it has been my experience that the vast majority of those women are happy in their work. Sure, there are days we dislike, the same as every other job, but the only women I have ever encountered who are truly unhappy are those who are drug addicted, or trapped through fear. This proposed legislative change does not take the above into account in any way, it seeks to prohibit the purchase of sex regardless of any circumstances."
Returning again to Indy's comment -
"she...is not likely to come to the attention of the police in the first place and if she does i.e. if a self-employed woman, not being coerced or constrained into acting as a prostitute, makes her living providing a sexual service for a particular group of clients e.g. disabled men then she could probably get herself classified as a sex therapist of some sort and thus be outside the application of the law."
Because she is presumably working behind closed doors and takes care over how she advertises her services, she already is outside the application of the law, and the introduction of the Swedish model would not change that. The question you instead need to address is why it is just or rational to criminalise her disabled clients (or indeed her other clients), but not her, when she is getting as much out of that consensual transaction as they are. Furthermore, your hint that prostitution might be acceptable as long as only "certain groups" are the purchasers opens up a whole new can of worms, and another area of inequality before the law if we were ever to go down that road.
"For practical purposes the laws on prostitution these days relate primarily to street prostitution and to the provision of prostitutes as part of organised criminal activity."
As I understand it, you're saying that's precisely as it should be. Why, then, do you want to introduce a law that would change that?
"After all it would serve no-one's interests to lock up even more drug addicts in our already overcrowded jails and everyone recognises that."
Would it serve anyone's interests to lock up (or more likely heavily fine) disabled clients of prostitutes? I can't find the link, but I seem to recall reading a study that suggested that as many as a third of the clients of sex workers are "the lonely and the sad", ie. not necessarily disabled, but very far removed from the one-dimensional charaterisation of clients we're supposed to be buying into. Trying to create a legal framework that casts all these people regardless of circumstance and motivation as "exploiters of women", and the people who freely choose to provide them with sex (many of whom are not even women) in exchange for often considerable financial reward as "victims of male violence against women" is plainly nonsensical, and worthy of the logical contortions seen in authoritarian states down the years, where whole swathes of law is/was rooted in dogmatic articles of faith, rather than the "seeking of truth from facts".
For the avoidance of doubt, I'll go back and emphasise the point "freely choose to provide". If the prostitute is not acting freely, of course the law should take punitive action against whoever is responsible for de facto slavery. But that's not what the Swedish approach is about.
"That's why it would be much more effective to focus on arresting and charging the clients."
I've already set out why I don't think that's true, and this article expands on that point much more comprehensively than I can, explaining why the much-trumpeted "success" of the Swedish model is a mirage born out of wishful thinking. But even if, for the sake of argument, your proposition was correct, I would still have considerable difficulty with the idea that "effectiveness" automatically trumps natural justice and equality before the law. After all, a law relating to street violence that solely criminalised males under the age of 25 (and allowed everyone else to act with impunity) might well be reasonably "effective" at tackling the problem, but I trust most people would accept that it would be grossly discriminatory, and contrary to our most fundamental values as a liberal democracy.