Women’s Resource Centre draft shadow report to CEDAW includes recommendations to criminalise clients

UPDATE: Good news, WRC took out the criminalisation of clients from the CEDAW shadow report but new wording is still problematic: “We recommend that the government recognise prostitution as a form of violence against women and girls, rather than legitimising the purchase of access to women’s bodies as a form of commerce.” Please respond with your experiences saying why sex work shouldn’t be categorised as violence.


The Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) draft shadow report to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) includes recommendations to criminalise clients. The draft shadow report currently says:

Trafficking and Prostitution
1. The State Report recognises the need to gather a robust evidence base on the nature and prevalence of sex work in England and Wales and has assigned funding of £150,000 for research. This is unacceptable as an account of progress over the last four years. By contrast, Northern Ireland has adopted the Nordic model.
2. We recommend that the Government adopt the Nordic model across the UK, to protect the safety of women in prostitution and challenge the abuses by the sex industry and the damaging narrative that sexual access to women’s bodies is a legitimate form of commerce.
3. Non-State torture must be specifically criminalised into national law as it is inflicted against women or girls who are subjected to human trafficking and sexualised exploitation.This ensures that the State adopts appropriate legal protection thereby eliminating human rights discrimination against women.

Please ask them to remove this recommendation in the final version and send any evidence you have of why criminalisation of clients would be a disaster for sex workers to WRC via Twitter @whywomen