A sex worker charity is to hold a vigil outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to highlight how Scottish Government policy fuels violence against women in the industry.

On International Day To End Violence Against Women, sex worker-led charity Scot-Pep will stand outside Holyrood to highlight that criminalisation of sex work and poverty makes sex workers vulnerable to violence.

They argue that the proposals to criminalise clients being pushed at the moment in the 'Equally Safe' consultation would only worsen this vulnerability.

'Not Equal, Not Safe', will be chanted by charity members, feminists and allies with candles and red roses as they will make calls for the Scottish Government to engage with workers in the trade.

Specifically, the campaign aims to highlight the "injustice and harm" of the soliciting, kerb-crawling and brothel-keeping laws which Scot-Pep says criminalises women for working on the street - in turn forcing them to work in hidden, isolated places and to rush through safety checks with clients.

They will outline how charities have been fast-moving and effective at distributing community-raised cash to sex workers but these groups have been shut out from Scottish Government funding - meaning that too many sex workers are still facing poverty or destitution during Covid-19.

Scot-Pep organiser, Kat said: “International Day to End Violence Against Women is the perfect day to hold the Scottish Government to account for the way its policies drive violence against women who sell sex.

"Women are still criminalised for selling sex in Scotland and the Scottish Government is now proposing to bring in additional criminalisation which has been shown all over the world to increase violence against sex workers.

"Sex workers need full decriminalisation along the lines of New Zealand – not the criminalisation of clients, which women in our network are calling 'a rapists’ charter’”. 

Marie, a sex worker involved in the vigil, said: “Sex workers in Scotland are not equal and not safe.

"I wish the Scottish Government would engage with us properly about what we need – financial help and decriminalisation – not impose inaccessible consultations on us and then be nowhere to be found at vigils like this.”