The Sunday Times carries a piece today about a pledge the government will be including in their forthcoming general election manifesto regarding the sex industry. According to the paper, ‘advertisements for massage parlours and escort agencies are to be banned’. Only newspapers seem to be talked about which, given the modern age of the web seems anachronistic at best. It’s not clear whether this will be an obligation imposed on newspapers – so they will have to decide if an ad is actually a ‘sex ad’ or the people placing the ads will be the ones committing an offence. I’m sure the newspaper will be ever so grateful for this further nail int heir coffin too.

If the government intends extending it to the web,. the question about liability remains and there are also huge questions about the online ‘ad hoc’ sex workers I have talked about – those who in response to a question for a meet in a chat room might reply “yes, I’ll do x for £20” or such like.

In terms of policy direction, it’s not surprising. Harriet Harman had previously tried to persuade newspapers to remove these ads voluntarily but this latest proposal, reflects the newspapers unwillingness or inability to carry out such a change. This new policy seems, to my mind, unworkable and we shall have to see if it makes it into the final manifesto.

A final note of interest, the government is also once again relying on the Poppy Project 2008 survey into the sex industry – which has repeatedly been used by those seeking to bans ex work/prostitution and has repeatedly been criticised as flawed and inaccurate by the majority of academics active in this field.

Read the full article here.