The Global Network of Sex Work projects have released a statement in response to the decision by The European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee’s to support proposals to criminalize the clients of sex workers.
The statement strongly condemns the recommendation to criminalize the clients of sex workers by MEP Mary Honeyball in a draft report on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality for a report to the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee. The proposals to criminalize the clients of sex workers are based on ill-thought out policies regarding sex work. The policy recommendations have been shown to increase stigma and discrimination against the sex workers in countries where similar policies have been introduced. Moreover, the direction of this proposed policy is incredibly dangerous not only in EU member states but also globally. There is every possibility that proposals to criminalize clients (and by extension the criminalization of sex work) becomes EU-wide policy with the further consequence that non-EU member countries would be encouraged to adopt similar policies. The draft report also conflates trafficking with sex work thereby contributing to an already growing number of ineffective policies aimed at eliminating ‘sex trafficking’ by focusing solely on ‘women in prostitution’.
FEMMs decision comes at a time when there a strong push by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) to work towards ‘a prostitution free Europe’. The EWL have unveiled a campaign today called the ‘Brussels’ Call’ which is “a political statement calling for the abolition of prostitution in Europe, and signed by more than 200 women’s organizations from all over Europe and beyond.”
You can download the statement here.