Our mission is to share and develop good practice in preventing commercial sexual exploitation, in supporting those involved in selling or exchanging sexual activity and in supporting those planning to exit/ exiting.
We aim to establish supportive relationships, share information and good practice, and based on identified need, look to joint approaches. This will work towards consistency and quality in meeting the needs of those affected by CSE and will seek appropriate means of ensuring the views and experiences of those affected are represented.
We also aim to share information and good practice in relation to preventing commercial sexual exploitation, including raising awareness through training, campaigning and lobbying, and challenging demand approaches that target those who purchase sexual activity.
The agencies involved have extensive experience of working with those involved in commercial sexual exploitation and use a combination of trained staff and volunteers.
WHAT IS OUR APPROACH?
We understand CSE to be a function of gender inequality, and a form of gender-based violence. We work to the Scottish Government's definition of Violence Against Women, which includes prostitution, pornography, trafficking, lap-dancing, stripping, pole-dancing and table-dancing as forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
We believe that these activities have been shown to be harmful for individuals involved and can have a negative impact on the position of all women through the objectification of women's bodies.
We support the decriminalization of those involved in selling sexual activity, and the provision of high quality, trauma-informed support services which aim to reduce the harm of commercial sexual exploitation, provide emotional support and counselling, and support for those planning to exit or who are exiting. We work to a non judgemental, person-centred approach, accepting and valuing each person involved in selling sexual activity for who they are - their skills, talents, inner resources, coping/survival strategies and future hopes.
ENCOMPASS STATEMENT, MAY 2020
Encompass is a small network of Scottish organisations working to reduce harm caused through commercial sexual exploitation. Member groups offer direct support to women along with advocacy services and ongoing consultation with women to identify their needs. Core membership of the Encompass network is open to all Scottish organisations who meet the following criteria.
Encompass works to build relationships and connections across all sectors and partnerships, acknowledging the value and importance of engaging with the differing approaches to CSE in Scotland with key stakeholders. We have never refused membership to any organisation who meets the criteria and we are really pleased to welcome new groups who recently made contact and would like to join Encompass. We also engage directly with women who are or have been selling or exchanging sex in different contexts.
We know the devastating impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in Scotland on women who sell or exchange sex and have called for investment of resources and innovative approaches to ensure they are included and have their needs met.
Encompass made contact with a wide range of agencies including: support services, peer support projects, Unions, sex worker organisations, sexual health and health promotion, VAWG partnerships / organisations to discuss women’s needs along with ways to work positively together and try to shape responses to the emerging situation. We have called for women who sell or exchange sex to be included in strategic plans and for a larger ringfenced specific amount to be available through other crisis and victim funds.
We welcome this Scottish Government funding to support women involved in the sex industry but also acknowledge that much more investment is needed. We have consistently called for this prior to and during Covid 19. We have worked hard with different organisations to remove barriers for women to access information, support and finances and see this additional funding as a vital contribution alongside other options such as hardship funds and Victims funds.
On local levels across Scotland any women involved in the sex industry who is facing hardship due to Covid 19, will be able to apply for financial help administered by Encompass member groups, with no conditions attached such as being made to exit the sex industry or agreeing on ideology and approaches. We have worked with women who are linked into a whole range of services, including sex worker led ones and it has never been the approach to lay conditions for women to engage with us.
The Encompass Network will continue to work with and alongside women to ensure they are involved in the planning and delivery of services. Their safety and well-being is of prime concern to all Encompass agencies.