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Justice for Emma

WSP statement, 28th February 2024


The Women’s Support Project would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Emma Caldwell who for too long have been waiting for justice. They have had not just to cope with the impact of losing Emma and campaigning for years for her justice but also enduring the court case. We hope today’s verdict can bring them some peace and resolution.

We would also like to acknowledge the bravery and courage of all the witnesses who were able to come forward and give evidence for Emma and themselves as victims.

This case demonstrates a shameful miscarriage of justice for women in Scotland. Women who reported violence against them were not responded to appropriately nor effectively by the justice system. This is inexcusable. Furthermore, not all women who experience violence including sexual assault and rape feel able to report to the police. In Scotland, the cases of 6 women who were murdered whilst involved in selling sex remain unsolved.

Women who sell sex have been repeatedly failed by systems and institutions including the police, justice and the courts, and whilst attitudes have changed slowly – much has still to be done. Their needs have not prioritised despite remaining some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities. Equally, their rights have not been protected nor respected with a lack of investment in prevention work, support services and robust support to leave the sex industry.

Time and again, women involved in selling or exchanging sex have shared their experiences of persistent violence, including harassment, stalking, assault, and rape, with the perpetrators frequently never being held accountable. In our recent Snapshot survey of women accessing specialist services for women who sell or exchange sex we found that almost 80% had experienced some form of violence.

Women, like Emma, are still subjected to high levels of violence and abuse - not only in street prostitution but in indoor prostitution settings. Punters/sex buyers like Iain Packer and many others choose to inflict violence, and as yet, our legislation does little to dissuade them or hold them accountable for the harms they cause. Existing legislation against these men is not enforced and we call on the Scottish Government to lead with a clear programme of work that ensures such protection is enforced along with the message that exploiting vulnerability and inequality to purchase sex is unacceptable.

We also call for a repeal of legislation that criminalises women in street prostitution. Huge barriers and challenges remain for any woman to report sexual violence, and undoubtedly the stigma that women who sell sex face can make it even harder to come forward.

All women have the right to justice for any crimes committed against them, no matter the context, setting or circumstance. They need and deserve support.

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The Womens Support Project works to raise awareness of the harms caused through prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, and to challenge the demand for buying sex and encourages women who have been victims of crime, violence, or exploitation to seek specialist support in Scotland. 



Additional Information for media:


Inside Outside – the voices and experiences of women involved in the sex industry in Scotland

Encompass Snapshot – a snapshot of women’s needs in Scotland


CSE Aware – a network offering information, resources and training to support workers on the needs of women who sell or exchange sex

Scottish Government commissioned research on the experiences of women with services 

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