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2010 National Women's Conference
19 October 2009
Carried as Amended

Buying Sex Is Not a Sport is a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and effect change around sex trafficking and prostitution and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic games. As the demand for prostitution has historically increased around major sporting events, those concerned with the sexual exploitation of women and girls have already begun working and campaigning in anticipation of a similar increase occurring in Canada during the 2010 event.

Meanwhile, on October 11th 2009, the Observer newspaper reported that there are growing calls for the temporary legalisation of prostitution in South Africa ahead of the 2010 football World Cup. Again, this is in anticipation of an increased demand for prostitution during a major international sporting event. It has already been reported that during the last World Cup in Germany, “sex huts” or “sex garages” for prostitution were set up to cater for the sexual desires of the estimated three million football fans who attended the tournament.

During July and August 2012 London will be hosting the Olympic Games, and it is feared that these Olympics will see similar problems. Thousands of male site workers, spectators and athletes are expected to fuel a spectacular boom in the sex industry, and police fear it may lead to more female sex workers being illegally smuggled into Britain to feed the lucrative demand. The Metropolitan Police Authority released a report in July 2009 warning that women would be put at risk by an increase in demand for prostitution during the Olympics, while vice squad officers have already detected a small increase in the number of trafficked women working in the five Olympic host boroughs in London. Research shows that incidents of trafficking ahead of the Athens Olympics rose by nearly 100 per cent, and there were reports of sex attacks in the athletes’ village at Sydney in 2000. The Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has been quoted as saying: “We need to send the strongest possible message that our Olympics will not be contaminated by this exploitation.” Conference agrees.

Additionally in 2014, Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games and will experience the same challenges as the London Olympics. The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow must not be a mechanism for the exploitation of women either!

Conference also agrees with our Canadian sisters that prostitution is not a sport. Indeed, as the 2008 National Women’s Conference affirmed, we believe instead that “prostitution is a serious social ill, which affects hundreds of thousands of women and children.” and that “paying for sex hurts the women who sell it; it has a terrible effect on society, and it perpetuates the negative gender stereotype of women as sex objects.”

Conference therefore instructs the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Liaise with the NEC and other UNISON bodies to highlight this issue throughout the union.

2)Liaise with the Poppy Project, which works with women trafficked into the UK and provides them with support, housing, and advocacy, and discuss with them ways in which UNISON can support them in their work.

3)Work with other relevant women’s organisations and anti-trafficking organisations to help raise awareness of the issue

4)Continue to campaign against the sexual exploitation of women and girls.