Press Releases

International leaders come together for a Europe free from prostitution

For immediate release

European Women’s Lobby
22 October 2019 — Brussels, Belgium

The sex trade cannot go unchallenged. We will work to ensure the next generations are supported to live a life free of abuse, violence and exploitation”

Hundreds come to Brussels demanding action be taken to tackle prostitution across Europe

Five years since the European Parliament recognised prostitution as a form of violence against women; activists, policy makers and survivors of prostitution call for greater action to disrupt the sex trade and hold those who perpetrate abuse to account with the adoption of the Honeyball Resolution.

On 16 October 2019 representatives from more than 25 national campaigning groups came together at the European Parliament to call for a radical shift in accountability to support those affected by men’s violence against women and girls. Under the campaign banner “Brussels Call: Together for a Europe Free from Prostitution”, voices were raised to demand justice through real action to end the sexism, classism and racism inherent to prostitution.

Pimping, trafficking and buying sex acts were noted as barriers to women’s equality, as were the lack of services being provided by European Member States to those affected by prostitution. Partners of the Brussels’ Call campaign are calling for legal reforms to hold these perpetrators to account while ensuring those who need it can access health, education, housing and professional support. Campaigners condemned a lack of action since the European Parliament’s Resolution of 2014 following the Report on “Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation and its Impact on Gender Equality”.

Gwendoline Lefebvre, President of the European Women’s Lobby, said:
"Prostitution is a system that enables the rape and exploitation of millions of women globally every day, and European inaction enables this to continue. As a key aspect of the continuum of violence against women, it’s crucial we come together to tackle the exploitation in the sex trade. This is why, with cross party support from Members of European Parliaments and more than 200 partners from across the Europe and the world in the Brussels’ Call campaign, we are raising our voices to ensure we realise a Europe where women are free from sexual exploitation, hyper sexualisation and objectification. Violence against women aims to silence us. Women all over Europe are rising their voice breaking the silence! We have had enough: Women object! "

Mary Honeyball, former Member of the European Parliament and signatory to the Brussels’ Call added:
"More than 5 years ago, I brought this issue forward to my colleagues in the European Parliament for consideration. With a strong majority we voted to affirm our position that prostitution is a form of violence against women, and called for measures to end demand for paid abuse to be brought forward. 5 years on, I am proud to join the many voices that form the Brussels’ Call in seeking further action: it is time for transnational collaboration to end sexual violence; legislation at a European level to end sexual exploitation and improved monitoring to ensure supports are being delivered to those who need it most."

We work to address the sex trade across Europe through promotion of health and exit supports for those affected by prostitution; decriminalisation of anyone directly affected by the sex trade as well as holding pimps, traffickers and ‘buyers’ to account for the harms they are contributing to - also known as the ‘Equality Model’.

Please find and download the album from the conference on Flickr

For more information contact:
Adeola Aderemi – EWL Communications & Media officer
Phone: +32 (0) 2 210 04 21

Note to editors:
Gwendoline Lefebvre, Catriona Graham and Mary Honeyball are available for interviews and op-ed pieces.

European Women’s Lobby:
WomenObject Week of Action to end Sexual Exploitation: Our Observatory to End Violence Against Women and our Taskforce on Sexual & Reproductive Health and Right were present and held series of public and internal actions with the partners of the campaign Brussels’ Call Together for a Europe Free from Prostitution. The Brussels’ Call started in 2012 as a commitment to a Europe free from prostitution; a Europe that stands up for equality, human rights and prevention of violence. With more than 150 women survivors, feminist advocates, allied movements and women leaders from all walks of life we strongly denounce the sexism, classism and racism inherent to the system of prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls.
For more information:

Brussels Call:
The Brussels’ Call is a collaboration of dozens of Members of the European Parliament and more than 200 civil society organisations, working together to combat violence against women and girls through seeking to end the system of prostitution. Founded in 2012 by the European Women’s Lobby, Foundation Scelles and Movement du Nid, we are committed to working at international, European, Member State and local level to achieve the abolition of prostitution while ensuring accountability of procurers and sex buyers and effective supports are provided to those directly affected.
For more information:
Read the Brussels Call here.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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