[Brussels, 29 May 2013] Today, EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum addressed the Women’s Rights Committee of the European Parliament. She was invited to present the views of the European Women’s Lobby on women’s rights in general in Europe, and in particular on three issues that will be discussed by the Committee in the coming months: violence against women, women’s sexual rights, and prostitution.
EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum informed MEPs of the detrimental impact of the crisis on women, in a context of growing attacks on women’s rights. In particular, she pointed out to increasing threats on women’s economic independence, as they are pushed back to the “traditional role” of second earner and carer. At the same time, the growing phenomenon of hypersexualisation of women and girls conveys the message that women’s bodies and sexuality are available for men’s fantasies and has a damaging impact on stereotypes.
Then Viviane Teitelbaum presented the views of the EWL on women’s sexual and reproductive rights, which should be addressed as human rights. She alerted on the lack of sexuality education, the triviliasation of surrogacy, the attacks on abortion rights, the impact of violence against women on women’s sexual and reproductive health.
Finally, she asked MEPs to address the issue of prostitution with a systematic view of the broader picture of structural inequalities between women and men. She recalled that the phenomenon of prostitution and sexual exploitation is highly gendered, and has to do with the patriarchal structures of our societies, with gender stereotypes and the persistence of a hegemonic form of masculinity, which justifies a system whereby some women are available for some men’s so-called needs. She quoted a survivor of prostitution, screened in the documentary “Not for sale”: “If women had more economic options in this world, they would not choose to be abused in prostitution”, and called on MEPs to be sensitive to the voice of survivors of prostitution.
During the exchange of views, MEP Morin-Chartier expressed her support to the work of the EWL and highlighted the need to support women’s employment, which is crucial to prevent them from poverty. She recalled that the pension gender gap amounts to 33% in Europe. MEP Tarabella congratulated the EWL for its work against violence against women and sexual rights, as well as on parity democracy. MEP Papadopoulou highlighted the difficult situation of women in Southern Europe, facing very hard times due to the crisis. MEP Zaborska expressed her wish to see the FEMM Committee adopt a position on all forms of prostitution.
EWL President concluded the session by acknowledging the need of female role models, to inspire women and girls, and bring a change of mentalities and policies. She recalled that EWL’s positions in all areas are based on the values of equality between women and men and of human rights. The EWL looks forward to continuing working closely with the FEMM Committee.