a masked protester holds a sign that reads
Photo: Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011 © 2011 Reuters.

What we do

Scot-Pep is grassroots and sex worker-led. Our actions and priorities are set collectively by current and former sex workers within the organisation. We do lots of things:

We campaign for laws that would make sex workers safer, we make sure sex workers voices are heard in debates about sex work policy, we produce resources, we meet with charities, women’s organisations and others involved in social justice movements to talk about how sex workers can be better supported, we create space for sex workers to meet and build collective power, and we put on events such as film screenings and discussions.

Photo: Film still from Workers! made Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP, 2018. Photograph Caroline Bridges.
Photo: Film still from Workers! made Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP, 2018. Photograph Caroline Bridges.

Consultation

We are developing a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on “challenging men’s demand for prostitution” and want to see sex workers’ voices and concerns recognised at the heart of this process.

We have written a guide to help sex workers, allies, individuals and other organisations navigate the consultation framework. It includes suggested prompts and tools for answering the questions that make up the consultation, plus a template email if you only have time to send in something shorter. 

Use our online tool

You can submit a response to the consultation using our online tool here too. We have drafted answers based on our primary concerns with the framing and content of the consultation, but we strongly encourage you to edit the response before you send it, including to add any personal experiences that are relevant. 
 
We have made this online tool available partly due to sex workers’ concerns about sharing their personal details with the Scottish Government where they identify themselves a sex worker. We know it can be intimidating to share sensitive information in this way and we hope this simplifies the process. 
 

If you want help writing a response, please do get in touch with us via email.  

You can submit until 10th December 2020. 

Read the full consultation here.

SCOT-PEP banner at a protest
Photo: May Day march, 2018

Decriminalisation

Scot-Pep, along with the global sex worker rights movement, and organisations including Amnesty International and the World Health Organization, advocates for the full decriminalisation of sex work. This includes the selling and purchasing of sexual services, and the facilitation, management and organisation of sex work (sometimes called ‘third parties’). 

In Scotland and the rest of the UK, current partial criminalisation makes sex work dangerous. The act of selling sex itself is not illegal, however, “associated activities” such as soliciting and brothel keeping are criminalised. This means that workers cannot work in pairs or groups for safety, and that those who do work in managed brothels have no access to workers’ rights. For street-based and outdoor workers, soliciting in a public place and kerb-crawling (for clients) are both offences. This means there is less time for workers to engage in screening, negotiate terms and safety measures such as informing others of their whereabouts. 

Criminalisation not only makes it harder to access workers’ rights and to work safely, it also acts as a barrier to accessing justice and other forms of support. Workers are often unwilling or unable to report when they have experienced violence at the hands of a client for fear that they themselves will be criminalised. 

Without the threat of criminal sanctions, sex workers’ workplaces would be subject to employment law, meaning they could exercise their rights as workers against exploitative bosses and poor working conditions. Workers would also be able to work together and practise more safety measures, as well as accessing support, leading to safer working, safer sex practices and better outcomes for workers.

Fundamentally, full decriminalisation of sex work increases sex workers’ power in interactions with clients, bosses, landlords and law enforcement.

Image of a person holding a banner that reads
Photo: Juno Mac/SWARM. Sex workers demonstrate outside a parlimentary debate in London on the 4th July 2018.

Edinburgh Drop-In

Scot-Pep works with, and helps to fund, a sex worker drop in held fortnightly in Edinburgh. This drop in provides safer sex supplies, food and drink, needle-exchange, resources and pamphlets detailing how to get help if needed. It also offers socialisation with other sex workers in a safe, sex worker only space, giving workers some of the resources of a traditional outreach service, without moralisation or attempts to pressure them to leave their current work.