I’m not going to fall prone to claiming a modern day popular band as my favourite thing to wake up to! But I am very pleased to read that popular rock band The Killers have joined together with UNICEF, USAID and MTV EXIT to raise awareness and increase prevention of human trafficking and exploitation.
The band are said to have made a powerful video for their new track Goodnight, Travel well highlighting the dangers of trafficking and the sexual exploitation of young women.
I look forward to seeing this video when it is released on Monday 13 July when I will feature it on this blog.
I was delighted to be invited to speak, on work undertaken in the EU on prostitution, at the launch of OBJECT and eaves’ new DEMAND CHANGE! campaign in Parliament yesterday afternoon.
Two powerful and inspiring organisations, OBJECT, is a campaigning organisation which is fundamentally against the objectification of women. And eaves is a London based feminist charity that provides supported housing to vulnerable women, women trafficked into prostitution, and those who have experienced domestic violence.
The new joint initiative between eaves and OBJECT – DEMAND CHANGE! – aims to promote an increased understanding of the myths and realities surrounding prostitution; calls for prostitution to be seen and widely understood as a form of violence against women; and is lobbying for the adoption of the ‘Nordic model’ of tackling demand and decriminalising women in prostitution.
Answering questions at the DEMAND CHANGE! event in Parliament
As an ardent supporter of the Nordic model, of tackling trafficking and violence against women through prostitution by criminalising the purchase of sex, I wholly support the DEMAND CHANGE! campaign and its aims. I believe campaigns such as these are key to changing the public perceptions and entrenched cultural attitudes towards the sale of women’s bodies for sex, which is is the only route towards the UK adopting the Nordic model to reduce this intolerable violence against women, children and men.
This event was a great opportunity to take back the battle ground on prostitution from the garish vocalists for pimps and punters The English Collection of Prostitutes and the International Union of Sex Workers. Who interestingly, now that legislation on lap-dancing clubs and prostitution have now passed out of the Commons, were not present at the event. A key indication of the sorts of people that are behind these frighteningly naive organisations, which deny figures on trafficking and offer up prostitution as a feminist choice when the clear reality is that no one would ever wish this destructive and demeaning career on anyone whom they cared about.
In my speech I discussed the European Parliament’s women’s committee’s inability to agree on the issue of prostitution due to the very varied legislation of each member state. As heated debate on the topic of the health of prostitutes, in the socialist group of the FEMM committee, showed last year, prostitution remains the last great feminist taboo.
Speaking to Swedish expert on the 'Nordic Model' Gunilla Exberg
While I agree with Iain Dale that today’s story is undoubtedly police behaviour at the G20 demonstration, the apparent kick in the back given by one of the police to a demonstrator and the demonstrator’s subsequent death, there is another story today which rings alarm bells regarding police attitudes.
The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Tim Brain, lead officer for the Association of Chief Police Officers, thinks new laws to make it a criminal offence to have sex with prostitutes controlled by pimps, which is due to come into force later this year, may be too complex to work in practice. The legislation is designed to protect women forced into prostitution by traffickers and pimps – surely something we all support. I have campaigned for a number of years against the trafficking of women and children and have heard the most appalling stories of what these poor women have to go through.
I therefore passionately believe that we must do all we can to stamp out the vile trade in human trafficking, which is nothing less than a modern form of slavery. The police who say they will not be able to collect enough evidence from women who are forced to work as prostitutes against their traffickers are some of the worst apologists I have heard for a long time. It is their duty to collect this evidence. It is also their duty to protect vulnerable people from crime and the effects of crime.
This week I’ve been blogging about the seminars that I was involved with at Labour Party Conference in Birmingham. The last seminar I spoke at was on fighting the sex trade in Europe.
By definition, the sex trade and human trafficking are international problems. The European Union is ideally placed to address these issues, partly through enhanced cross-border police cooperation to catch those who profit from human misery.
I also spoke about some of the lessons that we can learn from other European countries. Sweden took a brave decision in 1999 and criminalised the purchase of sex. Sweden has subsequently seen a dramatic fall in the incidence of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
All Internationalist parties should look at what legislation works well in other countries. I believe we should strongly consider introducing the Swedish model here.
That was the strong message I gave to conference.
This blog will be back on Tuesday.
At the end of February I attended the Labour Party Spring Conference in Birmingham. This year I spoke at three seminars on fairly diverse subjects. One seminar was on education, one on campaigning on the web and the third was on fighting the sex trade in Europe.
Education is not normally an area where the EU gets directly involved. It is rightly up to individual countries to decide on their educational priorities. But there are a number of areas where EU cooperation can help. As Labour’s spokesperson on Culture, Youth and Education in the European Parliament, I spoke about what Labour MEPs are doing to boost cooperation in the field of education.
ERASMUS is one of the EU’s flagship education schemes. It allows university students to spend up to one year studying abroad. Needless to say almost everyone who opts to take an Erasmus year comes back with a broader outlook on life, enhanced language skills and increased employment prospects. It’s sad then that the Tories recently voted against increasing the grant for students who take part in the scheme.
Europe has traditionally excelled in pure science but we have a poor record at translating this into useful innovation, particularly when compared to the United States. I spoke about the benefit we can get out of the proposed European Institute of Technology.
Finally, I also talked about some of the work we’re doing to ensure that university degrees from one member state are recognised in another. More and more graduates are seeking work in another country. Mutual recognition of degrees will surely help their employment prospects.
I’ll write more on the other two seminars tomorrow and Wednesday.