Exploitation within the sex industry affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. Often it is a person’s lack of choice that forces them to ‘choose’ prostitution. A significant number get involved in selling sexual services at a young age and many have experienced abuse in childhood or have spent time in local authority care. Studies show that high numbers of women in prostitution have experienced coercion from a partner, pimp or relative and that incidents of violence are much higher than in the rest of society.  Drug and alcohol misuse is a problem for some and chaotic lifestyles can make it difficult for people to leave prostitution without support.
Although every case is different and some people will face greater barriers to exiting than others, research has identified the following common barriers to leaving prostitution :
- Problematic drug/alcohol use
- Housing issues
- Physical and mental health problems
- Experience of violence as children
- Criminalisation (i.e. having a criminal record)
- Money – debt and importance of a disposable income
- Coercion from partners/family members/pimps/traffickers
- Lack of qualifications and training
- Age of entry into prostitution
A report published by the All Party Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade in the Westminster Parliament highlighted the lack of a coherent approach between policing prostitution and strategies to promote exit. Identifying wide variations in the quality of services available and reductions in funding for this specialist kind of support, the report calls for “a more co-ordinated approach between local councils and service providers, particularly in order to better safeguard those most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.” The report also observes that “it is deeply disturbing that women involved in prostitution can access frontline services for many years without ever once being asked whether they have a desire to exit the sex trade. It should be a requirement of government funded services to make this pathway available.”
Although changing the criminal law in relation to prostitution is not within the Welsh Assembly’s remit, it is able to address the provision of services to people in prostitution. CARE would like the Welsh Government to develop clear strategies to reduce entry to prostitution and ensure greater access to exiting support. The Welsh Assembly could ensure such strategies receive the priority and long-term attention needed by making them a statutory requirement. The Northern Ireland Assembly has recently established a statutory duty to develop strategies on existing prostitution.
Questions for Candidates
- If elected will you promote better strategies to help people to exit prostitution?
- If elected will you promote reporting of government spending on programmes to reduce entry to and promote exit from prostitution?
- If elected will you work to ensure Welsh Government funded service providers will make available, or provide information about, programmes which facilitate exit from prostitution?
 Section 19 of The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015