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Educate boys on sex trade, says feminist

Young men in Scotland must be targeted in the fight against prostitution, according to a leading American feminist who has been backed by actress Elaine C Smith.

Young men in Scotland must be targeted in the fight against prostitution, according to a leading American feminist.

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Janice Raymond, an executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, wants schoolboys to be educated about prostitution in an attempt to shape male attitudes towards pornography and sexual exploitation from an early age.

She said: "Young men are more aware of the issues, including prostitution and exploitation, and we need them to engage with our work.

"Men are part of the problem, not prostitution on its own."

Ms Raymond was speaking in Glasgow on Saturday night at the awards ceremony for Zero Tolerance, the anti-domestic violence charity, where she collected the International Woman Award.

She also criticised the GMB union after it set up a branch for table dancers to lobby clubs for better pay and conditions. She said the union should follow the example of Norway's trade unions, which stopped supporting lap-dancers because of the profession's links with sexual exploitation.

Ms Raymond was backed by actress Elaine C Smith, who called for a change in male attitudes towards prostitution.

Ms Smith said: "The level of domestic violence, abuse, sexual abuse, prostitution and sex trafficking going on within our country is still at levels that are completely unacceptable."

"I am still very concerned that women are perpetuated as the victim and very rarely, as far as I am concerned, is the behaviour of men within that situation actually challenged."

She also attacked the GMB, accusing it of "legitimising"

the lap-dancing industry, adding: "We can talk about prostitution and sex trafficking, and we now unfortunately have women coming out and saying, Oh no, I'm a lap-dancer through choice'.

"We have trade unions now trying to organise women in lap-dancing, which I find a bit crazy. I am not saying the union is not supportive of Zero Tolerance, but they are in a way legitimising lap-dancing and prostitution."

Harry Donaldson, GMB Scottish regional secretary, said: "A lot of these women are being exploited and our job is not about challenging the moral issue.

"We are happy to speak to Elaine and see if we can work jointly to help the lap-dancing industry move away from her concerns that it is a back door to prostitution."

Other winners at the Zero Tolerance awards included the broadcaster Kirsty Wark, who picked up the award for "Woman in the public eye", sponsored by The Herald.

The lifetime achievement award went to Dr Mary Hepburn, a senior lecturer in women's reproductive health at Glasgow University, who in 1990 established the Glasgow Women's Reproductive Health Service for women with severe social problems including drug use.

"Woman of the future" was awarded to Arlene Gaffney, 21, of the Rape Crisis Centre, while the team award went to Assist (Advocacy, Support, Safety, Information Services Together), an advocacy project, providing support for women whose partners or ex-partners are going through the domestic abuse courts.

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