We must criminalise one adult paying another adult to touch themselves sexually, because trafficking victims are being forced to touch themselves sexually whilst others watch. This was included in Lord Morrow’s call to the NI Assembly today.

Lord Morrow quoted William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”  I have to say, I did not know.  I’d never heard of this particular form of sex trafficking in Northern Ireland until today.  I wonder have the PSNI heard of it yet?  Have there been any specific NI cases?  Why has Lord Morrow never mentioned it before?

In any event Lord Morrow put forward Amendment 10 to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, which criminalises payment for ‘B touching B in a sexual manner for the sexual gratification of A, B being physically in A’s presence’, claiming this amendment is all about stopping trafficking.

The amendment was opposed by Alliance. Stewart Dickson MLA said it widened the scope of criminalising the purchase of sex, it meant lap dancing, stripping, kissogram services, even attending a play with a sex scene could become criminal. “Will Lady Chatterley’s Lover be banned from stages once more?” he asked.

Lord Morrow stated that the Attorney General had advised him that this amendment will not criminalise lap dancing or stripping.  Justice Minister David Ford agreed this was the Attorney General’s advice, but disputed it, saying he had received contradictory legal advice.

Following a short debate, including some very bumbling discussion of the different forms A’s and B’s and sexually touching could take, Lord Morrow’s call was answered – MLAs voted 52 in favour and 35 against, thus passing Amendment 10.

We also learned that Clause 15 of the Bill, previously Clause 6, which will criminalise the purchase of sex (and possibly now also criminalise the purchase of a lap dance and various other activities) will come into effect on 1 June 2015.

The Bill does not “criminalise the buyer and decriminalise the seller”, despite many claims to the contrary. The laws that can be used to criminalise sex workers, most notably the brothel keeping laws, still remain. No MLA even attempted to put forward an amendment to address this injustice.

This is all about trafficking says Lord Morrow.  I don’t believe him.

Lucy Smith |