At the national level

Launch of Portuguese petition and actions ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’

On 20 October, the Portuguese member organisation of the EWL, PpDM, the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights, organised a full-day event on prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation, in order to bring the attention to the political and public sphere.

During the day, speakers from Portugal, Scotland, Hungary and Belgium shared experiences and expertise on the issues of trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution. Click here to see the final programme.

Teresa Fragoso, President of the governmental Commission for Gender Equality and Citizenship, and representing the Secretary of State for Equality, opened the conference by welcoming the initiative, explaining that “trafficking in human beings is quite new on the political agenda of the Commission for Equality and Citizenship.” She made references to the new Portuguese National Action Plan on trafficking, and to the new EU directive that Portugal will have to transpose at national level by 2013. Talking about prostitution, she clearly said that “prostitution cannot be seen as a profession”. When questioned about the message spread by the media about trafficking mainly affecting men, she said that “sexual exploitation for commercial or non commercial objectives is more difficult to see and to prove at court. When we find trafficked persons for sexual exploitation, they are registered for the crime of prostitution and not as victims of trafficking. There is however political awareness of those invisible communities.”

Morning session: trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation

EWL Policy Officer and Project Coordinator Pierrette Pape introduced the morning session about trafficking, by making a presentation about the gendered approach to trafficking. Starting from the definition and facts and figures about trafficking, she demonstrated that the phenomenon is gendered and should therefore be tackled from a gendered perspective. You can see her PPT by clicking here.

Federica Rodrigues, from the International Organisation for Migration, presented IOM’s awareness raising campaigns against trafficking. She screened IOM’s clip against trafficking in South Africa, which you can watch by clicking here. Talking about the link between migration and trafficking in IOM’s campaigns, she made it clear that “migration has nothing to do with trafficking; campaigns are not about migration or discouraging it.”

Then, Joana Daniel-Wrabetz, from the Observatory of Trafficking in Human Beings, presented the Portuguese situation, and in particular the number of confirmed cases of trafficking, which seems to only be the tip of the iceberg when looking at the scale of trafficking in Europe.

Paula Togni, from the Portuguese Platform of the European Network of Migrant Women, made a presentation entitled “Under the veil of human rights: Trafficking, Traffic and Public Policy for Immigration. A case study about Brazilian women in Portugal”, where she denounced the way the media “typify” the Brazilian identity and promote a link between Brazilian women and sexualisation. Her research was also about marriages between Brazilian women and Portuguese men, which have increased and are often perceived to be for convenience, mainly due to the image portrayed by the media.

Ann Hamilton, from the Human Trafficking Foundation in the UK, presented the work against trafficking in her country. She introduced indicators for sexual exploitation and gave examples in Portugal and the UK. Click here to see her PPT.

Andrea Matolcsi, from the MONA Foundation for the women of Hungary, presented the work of her organisation in combating prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation within, into and out of Hungary. “Interviews carried out with a handful of decision-makers and law-enforcement officials in 2006-2007 showed that they displayed the same usual clichés about prostitution that can be seen in society in general, namely that women choose to be in prostitution, whereas men seem to be forced to use prostitution. This perception is constantly reconfirmed by the media and the sex industry and reverses roles and responsibility.” MONA’s pilot trainings for the police in 2008-2010 resulted in a positive change in attitude among participants, improved knowledge of background of prostitution and trafficking, and increased empathy towards victims.
MONA is a member of the Hungary Women’s Lobby and a very active member of EWL campaign. Click here to see her PPT.

Afternoon session: prostitution

Pierrette Pape, from the European Women’s Lobby, presented the EWL’s position on prostitution, which is to consider that it is a form of violence against women and oppression. Based on a series of facts and figures, she demonstrated that the system of prostitution is a violation of women’s rights and an obstacle to equality between women and men. This is why the EWL has developed a campaign at European level, which has now gained the support of 9 Members of the European Parliament. To see her PPT presentation, click here.

Inês Fontinha, from the Portuguese organisation O Ninho, which supports persons in prostitution, gave examples of Portuguese cases and presented the organisation’s position on prostitution. She started by stating that “prostitution is a social problem. It’s not the individual action of a person, it is a commercial business with a transnational scope.” She gave concrete example of women whom O Ninho supported, and said that the reflection period given by the legislation on trafficking is not sufficient: “Time is crucial. Victims of prostitution need a long-term support to recover from the trauma they suffered.” The 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others came into force in 1991 in Portugal. “Thanks to our efforts, the Penal Code does not refer to the consent anymore.” O Ninho is now a partner of EWL campaign!

Ann Hamilton, who is managing the End Prostitution Now campaign in Scotland, presented how stakeholders in Glasgow decided to develop a holistic approach to prostitution. She explained the Glasgow approach which was about tackling the demand and changing inevitability. “The only free choice is that of the purchaser, who decides when, where and how he will buy sex.” She presented different campaign posters which are based on quotes from prostitute-users. End Prostitution Now is a partner of the EWL campaign. Click here to see her PPT.

Andrea Matolcsi, from the MONA Foundation, presented the results of a research carried out by a Dutch social worker among Hungarian prostitutes in Amsterdam’s ’Nyíregyháza street’. “This research shows that the idea that legalized brothels help ensure that women are in prostitution voluntarily and autonomously and free from exploitation and abuse certainly is not true for the majority of this sample. 89% are not happy to be in prostitution. 81% would like to go back to Hungary within one year, and 82% want to be doing something else to earn money besides prostitution within a year.” Click here to see her PPT.

Launch of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free form prostitution’ in Portugal

The conference ended up with the launch in Portugal of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free form prostitution’ in Portugal. The PpDM initiated a petition, based on EWL pledge, where individuals can sign up not to engage in the system of prostitution and commit to call on local, national and European decision-makers to take action towards a Europe free from prostitution. Click here to see PpDM flyer about the campaign.

The PpDM also wants to organise a series of debates in the coming year, with the goal to organise a seminar on 23 September 2012 which will present the political outcomes of the discussions throughout the year. They believe that the issue of prostitution should be brought back to the political and public agenda, and should be talked about, in order to break stereotypes and the current taboo which surrounds it. If you want to be involved in these forthcoming events, please don’t hesitate to contact the ppDM!

Screening of ‘Not for sale’

The day ended up with the screening of the EWL film ‘Not for sale’ at the House of Brazil (Casa do Brazil), in the centre of Lisbon. ‘Not for sale’ is one the EWL video material of the campaign, together with the clip ‘For a change of perspective’. Participants also discovered the two video clips which were produced by the Belgian NGO Le Monde selon les Femmes and which display young men standing up against the system of prostitution. Thanks to these various video material, participants were able to discuss both the issue of victims and survivors, but also the issue of the demand for prostitution. The two video clips involving young men can be seen on EWL campaign webpages, with other video resources on the issue (click here).

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