I’ve been raising the issue of ‘sex for rent’ for 18 months now. This is the hideous practice of landlords offering free accommodation to people in return for sex.
I’ve had the law clarified, it is illegal with a maximum prison sentence of seven years. But despite thousands of adverts being posted and hundreds of mostly young women being sexually exploited there hasn’t been a single arrest or conviction. So I have met three times with the Home Secretary and Ministers to ask about enforcement of the law. To be clear: just placing the advert is incitement to prostitution and is breaking the law, but no one has even been cautioned for this.
Last week I held a whole debate in the Commons on ‘sex for rent’ and the police minister made several commitments to follow up on my requests. Credit to him for this, I’m pleased and think there will be some progress.
But what about the websites that host these adverts? If police come across someone sexually exploiting someone in our communities they act. But Craigslist facilitates this exchange and it profits from it. So my question is this: if Craigslist are acting like pimps why aren’t we treating them like pimps?
This is the question I asked of ministers today in the Commons.
I’m not giving up on this. I’m in close touch with a group of brilliant barristers and together we’re exploring the possibility of a test case on this. Just because government is acting slowly doesn’t mean I’m going to hang around too!
If this is something you’ve come across if have views on please let me know as I’m always keen to hear. Yours, Peter