This is an excerpt from Maya Oppenheim’s article from The Guardian which discusses how The European parliament has recently voted for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.
“MEPs vote to criminalise buying sex”
Excerpt from article by Maya Oppenheim
The European parliament has voted in favour of a resolution to criminalise the purchase of sex.
On Wednesday, 343 MEPs backed a report proposed by the London MEP and Labour spokeswoman for women in Europe, Mary Honeyball, which recommends the adoption of the “Nordic model” of prostitution that legalises selling sex but criminalises buying it. Some 139 MEPs voted against;105 abstained.
The yes vote formally establishes the EU’s stance on prostitution and puts pressure on member states to re-evaluate their policies on sex work.
“Today’s outcome represents a vital signal from MEPs that we cannot continue to tolerate the exploitation of women,” Honeyball said. “Rather than blanket legalisation, parliament has backed the more nuanced approach already practised in Sweden as a means of tackling prostitution. This punishes men who treat women’s bodies as a commodity, without criminalising women who are driven into sex work.
“The idea that prostitution is the oldest profession leads some to think we should accept it as a fact of life, that all we can do is regulate it a little better. This course of action leads to an increase in prostitution levels, normalising the purchase of sex and ingraining the inequalities which sustain the sex industry.”
The issue was brought to the fore in January when MEPs voted in favour of a report from the European parliament’s women’s rights committee that argued prostitution and trafficking were a fundamental violation.
Sweden was the first country to criminalise the purchase of sex, in 1999. Since then the Nordic model has become increasingly popular across Europe. Norway and Iceland adopted the model in 2009, and in December 2013 France followed suit. The main alternative to the Nordic model is the Dutch-style legalisation championed by the Netherlands and Germany, which fully legalise prostitution.
The issue of criminalisation is contentious. Supporters of the Nordic model say prostitution is inherently exploitative and that the criminalisation of sex-buyers will lead to a reduction in prostitution. While they argue that the model will ensure the conviction of sex buyers and the protection of prostitutes, proponents of decriminalisation fear the opposite. They argue that criminalising prostitution will drive sex work underground and increase the vulnerability of prostitutes.
Honeyball maintains that many women who sell their bodies for sex have been trafficked or coerced into doing so. She argues that “very few women work in prostitution completely of their own free will, and choices made in conditions of being unequal cannot be considered free”.
Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, says women and girls constitute 96% of trafficked people. It adds that 91% of trafficking cases relate to sexual exploitation, while only 7% relate to labour exploitation and 2% to other forms.
Most of the victims of sexual exploitation are trafficked to countries where prostitution is legal and/or regulated, rather than countries which adopt the Nordic model, Europol says.
Myria Vassiliadou, the EU anti-trafficking co-ordinator, said: “If hundreds of thousands of women are trafficked, there will continue to be hundreds of thousands of customers. We must stop the demand and recognise the clear link between trafficking and prostitution … We need to create a culture where buyers are aware that the women they are buying services off might be victims of trafficking.”[…]”
This is an excerpt from Maya Oppenheim’s article which was originally posted on February 26, 2014 on The Guardian
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/meps-vote-criminalise-buying-sex-european-parliament