‘A Europe free from prostitution’?

Labour Party

The European Women’s Lobby visited the European Parliament earlier this week to put forward their proposals for a ‘Europe free from prostitution.’

They have identified six key recommendations they would like Brussels to adopt. These are:

EWL’s six key recommendations to EU Member States:
1.    the suppression of repressive measures against prostituted persons
2.    the criminalisation of all forms of procuring
3.    the development of real alternatives and exit programmes for those in prostitution
4.    the prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act
5.    the implementation of policies of prevention, education, to promote equality and positive sexuality
6.    the development of prevention policies in the countries of origin of prostituted persons.

Following the EWL’s calls I said “I fully supported the adoption of a model similar to the one in place in Sweden.”

While I agree, and support the EWL’s recommendations I also believe we must focus attention, effort and resources on the issue of human trafficking which helps fuel the demand for prostitution.

If we are to tackle the problem of prostitution we must also acknowledge and fight equally hard to abolish the very violent crime of human trafficking.

Statistics show that between 76-79% of reported trafficking in humans is for sexual exploitation. This is a worryingly high statistic, and, in reality, is likely to be even higher because not every crime of this nature is reported.

I therefore support the criminalisation of all forms of procuring, and the creation of effective exit programmes for sex workers, in line with the views of the EWL.

In Sweden, legislation which criminalises those who pay for prostitutes had had a very significant impact in reducing the number of persons exploited in street prostitution, reducing it by half. In 1996, 13.6% of Swedish men said they had bought someone for prostitution purposes. In 2008, the figure had dropped to 7.8%.

Tackling this issue while simultaneously deploying more resources to help victims of human trafficking makes sense but also provides the best chance to help every victim of sexual exploitation.