Our escort services legal or not? If so, how are they regulated? These and many other questions often aren’t being discussed enough and still are quite taboo. Nonetheless, law regulations for both the ones who provide these kinds of services and the ones who receive them, are highly important and significant just as much as they are vital for any other aspect of the society, if not more.

The grey zone is what we call the sex work area in which refusing to legally specify the boundaries and workers’ rights, leaves numerous questions open and a tremendous amount of problems, unsolved.

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However, there are certain countries where escort services or brothels along with escort individuals and their work are completely legal, such as New Zealand, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, and many more. The number of countries with completely legal escort status is almost the same or a little lower than the number of countries where it’s entirely prohibited and illegal to be a sex worker or to receive sexual services. The number in between that goes up to 15, represents the countries where these activities are limitedly legal, meaning that some actions are allowed and some of them are carrying the legal consequences if proven guilty. One of those countries where the boundaries are still unclear is the United Kingdom.

What do laws in the UK look like? They’ve been easing over the years but they still aren’t completely defined. Escort services alone are legal but everything following them is not. This means that individuals who are working are allowed to work unless they don’t take part in the management process. Pimping out people is strictly illegal. Managing a brothel is also illegal, although brothels are not necessarily bad for its workers, since they provide them with certain rights and a certain level of protection.

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Other than that, advertising these kinds of activities is still not allowed, especially if that includes advertisement using the phone boxes or working on the streets, specifically called curb-crawling. However, we could say that the old ways of marketing are being forbidden while the new ones take their place on the escort market. With the expansion of the internet, new ways of advertising are being both available and allowed. That’s the case with the booking escort websites and platforms such as uescort.com that actually offer +1 services, meaning that it’s their workers’ time that’s been paid for. In other words, people get to pay for social escort services, if they need a +1 for any social events whether they are private or public. What happens behind the curtains, stays there. That being said, running a website is one of the legal methods for advertising escort services, as an opportunity for the escort workers to be seen and visible on the internet, so that they could attract their customers. At the same time, both parties benefit from this kind of transaction, since they maintain discretion while the whole process is being monitored, and both the workers and the buyers of the service are safe and respected.

The logic or the reason behind the legality of running a website offering escort services could be simple – preventing pimps from exploiting their workers, as well as fewer workers on the streets and less visible brothels in every city. A more subtle, and more importantly, a more discrete process of creating new connections is directly related to the new advertisement techniques and is how escort services are now (successfully) functioning.

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This is the case with most of the UK, but not with specific areas such as Northern Ireland. Here, it’s completely illegal to receive escort services as well as any kind of advertisement, for organizations or individuals. This system makes paying for sex illegal, criminalizing the clients rather than the workers. However, it’s only a partial solution since it’s been noticed that this model led to an increase in assaults and violence towards escort individuals. Why? We can only assume that this legally unequal position urges the clients to exploit sex workers to the extent that’s crossing the line when it comes to their safety and well-being.

This is why there’s still not a cure-all solution that would solve the problems on the way from complete prohibition, to neo-abolitionism, and finally, decriminalization. Depending on the country where the escort websites are being hosted, it still remains an open question about their legality. If they’re hosted in a country that either prohibits these activities or escort marketing, it can be a possible issue and can be further discussed.

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But having everything considered, they seem to be the best transitional way to make escort services possible and to keep the business going, despite the challenges that go along. With the numbers between 60 and 80 thousand sex workers and escorts in the UK, internet platforms seem to make a huge impact on their lives, in a good way.

What’s the future of both escort and sex services? To be able to define or to picture what it would look like, we should first compare the current UK law system with the others around the world. Legal decriminalized escort and sex work means safety first. It means that these people should have the same human rights just like everyone else, and deserve their work not being stigmatized. In countries where sex work is protected, licensed, and regulated by law, crime rates in the sphere are significantly lower or at least- visible since the workers are able to speak up and report the assaults, with no fear that they will be prosecuted. On the other hand, clients or buyers of these services should also be put in a position where they must respect and obey certain rules. The government is maybe the only instance able to guarantee that the laws or rules will be applied and followed, obeyed, and respected. And that will create a safe environment, for individuals on both sides, and for the legal system itself. If that’s what every country wants to achieve, then decriminalization and thorough regulation is the best first step that could be made.

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