A NATIONAL hub is to be created to support women leaving sex work in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has said a pilot of the hub will begin in the summer, followed by a phased national roll out. 

It is set to bring together specialist services which support women affected by commercial sexual exploitation, linking them with mainstream services such as housing and social security.

It forms part of a new strategy to support women to safely exit sex work and challenge men’s demand for it.

Siobhian Brown, victims and community safety minister, added a new multi-agency group on commercial sexual exploitation will be established next month to help progress the work.

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She said: “Prostitution is recognised as a form of violence against women and girls, and is exploitation. By linking mainstream and specialist services, we will make it easier for women to access the support they need so they can sustainably exit from prostitution.

“A key part of our new strategy is the need to tackle the drivers of commercial sexual exploitation, including social and economic inequalities and the need for collective leadership from government, the third sector and beyond to tackle these.

“A new multi-agency group on commercial sexual exploitation will be established in March to help progress this work.”

The hub is to be rolled out across Edinburgh and the Borders, Highland, Perth and Kinross, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Ayrshire.

Following this, the hub will provide a network of support where organisations across Scotland can seek advice.

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Linda Thompson, national co-ordinator of the Women’s Support Project (WSP), said: “The WSP is pleased to see the Scottish Government reiterate that commercial sexual exploitation in all forms is violence against women and that those exploited must have robust comprehensive support and exiting services across the country.

"We hope that national and local leadership, with commitment, partnerships and specific resources, will disrupt this industry and hold to account all those who benefit and profit from the exploitation of inequality and vulnerability.”