A few months back there was yet another Holyrood consultation about the idea of introducing the Nordic model on prostitution law - but this one was a bit different from the previous efforts, because it was initiated by the government itself. Two or three years ago, the SNP changed its policy on prostitution, which it now regards as a form of 'gendered violence against women' that can be tackled by 'challenging men's demand for paid sex' - in other words by criminalising the clients of sex workers and by (theoretically) decriminalising sex workers themselves. That's the Nordic Model in a nutshell, although for presentational reasons it's instead being referred to as a new 'Scottish Model'. However, the dynamic may have changed again very recently due to the subtle realignment in Scottish politics - some of the people who were probably most enthusiastic about a change in the law have defected to Alba because of the trans issue, while the ascendancy of people like Rhiannon Spear, and the SNP's nascent alliance with the Greens, should ensure that the case against the Nordic Model at least gets some sort of hearing. The Greens, as I understand it, favour full decriminalisation of prostitution.
Sex workers themselves tend to be viscerally opposed to the Nordic Model, so to find out why, I spoke to Maggie McNeill for the latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast. Maggie has several decades of experience as a sex worker and now writes a popular blog called The Honest Courtesan, in which she has discussed the flaws of the Nordic Model at considerable length. In the podcast she explains...
* That the Nordic Model deprives women of agency and is thus incompatible with feminism.
* That the Nordic Model has its origins in racist impulses.
* That she cannot relate to the idea that she has experienced "violence against women" by being a sex worker.
* That the supposed "decriminalisation" of selling sex as part of the Nordic Model does not in fact protect women from prosecution in practice.
* That she does not believe the world would be a better place if prostitution is eradicated, even if that were possible.
* That the only practical way of reducing the number of women involved in sex work is not by criminalising their clients, but instead by tackling poverty, and specifically by introducing a Universal Basic Income.
* That Scotland should take the opposite route from the Nordic Model by instead embracing the New Zealand Model of full decriminalisation.