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The Salvation Army believes human life is created in the image of God and is a gift to be cherished, nurtured and redeemed (Genesis 1:27). The sanctity of human life means we treat all people with dignity irrespective of past or present personal circumstance or social status. Dignity is neither conferred nor withheld by human choice; it is inherent in every person.
Many people are drawn into prostitution by conditions that include poverty, ignorance, trauma and coercion. People who work as prostitutes should not be treated as criminal offenders by virtue of their activities in the sex trade and should be viewed and treated with value and dignity.
The Salvation Army does not support treating prostitution as normative or acceptable practice, or as a socially or morally legitimate career choice. We recognise the negative consequences of prostitution on people and society, including personal degradation, exploitation, human trafficking and damage to psychological and physical health.
Legalisation of the sex trade is where the practice of prostitution is recognised as lawful by the State. Decriminalisation is where the practice does not attract any penalties of law even though it may be discouraged by the State. Both often unintentionally create a social climate in which those engaged in sexual exploitation can expand this industry.
The Salvation Army identifies a need to continually combat demand, develop sufficient support for people desiring to exit sex work, provide community education and challenge behaviours that devalue people through sexual exploitation. We believe that any serious consideration of the sex trade should place more focus on all people involved—not just those working as prostitutes—and, subsequently, those who utilise prostitution services and those who organise the industry should also be the focus of community education and regulation where appropriate.
Because of our commitment to the inherent value and dignity of every person, The Salvation Army maintains its support and care for those people involved in prostitution while at the same time regarding the practice of prostitution as harmful.
Approved by the General of The Salvation Army, April 2015.