Prostitution Should Be Decriminalized in U.K., Lawmakers Say

Soliciting sex and sharing premises with other sex workers should no longer be criminal offenses in the U.K., a panel of lawmakers said.

Police should target sex trafficking and organized criminal exploitation instead, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said in a report on Friday.

Decriminalizing prostitution, an industry that involves around 72,800 women in the U.K., would be a move in step with countries like Sweden, France and New Zealand, which have recently liberalized their stances. Around 11 percent of British men aged 16 to 74 -- or 2.3 million individuals -- have paid for sex at least once, the committee said.

“Treating soliciting as a criminal offense is having an adverse effect,” committee chairman Keith Vaz said in a statement. “It’s wrong that sex workers, who are predominantly women, should be penalized and stigmatized.”

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