EWL News

Second world congress against the sexual exploitation of women and girls: inspiring, thought-provoking and moving

[Brussels, April 2017] End of January 2017, CAP International held its Second World Congress against the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Entitled “The last girl first”, and held in India, the event brought the voices of the most vulnerable women and girls on the international policy agenda, and strengthened the global movement committee to a work free from sexual exploitation. More than 400 civil society representatives, leaders and decision-makers, from 30 countries and 5 continents, gathered to discuss all aspects of sexual exploitation, and design coalitions, strategies and messages to shift the paradigm on prostitution and sex trafficking. The first Congress took place in November 2014 in Paris. See below the video of CAP on their second Congress.

The event was organized around several panels and brought together 70 speakers: survivors, representatives of the most vulnerable women and girls (Indigenous, low cast, migrant minorities, women of colour), youth and student movements, trade unions, representatives of the new technologies sector, representatives of the SAARC region (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), and members of parliament worldwide. You can read CAP International report here, see some photos here, and watch some videos here.


“Prostitution is the absence of choice. This is the most powerful room I have ever found myself in… because you all know that we should put the last girl first”, Ashley Judd, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, feminist activist

“The last girl should be our compass, the goal of any policy. The last girl is female, she is poor, she is a Dalit in India, an Indigenous girl in Canada, a Roma girl in Europe, she is a victim of sexual violence and economic inequalities. We have to address the normalization of the purchasing power, of body invasion”, Ruchira Gupta, Apne Aap Women Worldwide

“We do not choose prostitution, prostitution chooses us. And those of us who have been prostituted face lifetimes of physical and sexual male violence”, Jackie Lynne, co-founder of Indigenous Women against the Sex Industry, survivor of prostitution

“The biggest driver for child sexual exploitation is prostitution”, Gavin Shuker, MP, the UK

"Présenter la prostitution comme un travail, c’est légaliser l’exploitation sexuelle", Sabine Reynosa, CGT Femmes - lisez son intervention ici

Parliamentarians unite!

The EWL co-hosted the panel on “Youth and students’ movement for abolition”, which brought together the new generation of abolitionist leaders. You can find here more details about the speakers: coming from France, Sweden, India, Spain, Canada, and Lebanon, they shared their vision of a world free from prostitution, where the voices of young people would be part of the global conversation to end sexual exploitation. The EWL has initiated a European coalition called Youth4Abolition, which was represented by Raphaëlle Rémy-Leleu from Osez le féminisme ! (France) And Meghan Donevan from Freethem (Sweden) during the Congress. Read below to find out more about Youth4Abolition.

Applying intersectionality to prostitution and sexual exploitation

Apne Aap Women Worldwide, co-organiser and member of CAP International in India, also proposed field trip visits to the adopted schools and to the communities with whom they are working to break the cycle of intergenerational prostitution still prevalent in some nomadic groups. For example, the Nat are a low cast group labeled a Criminal Tribe by the British because they were nomadic and refused to settle down and work on British plantations and settlements. For over a hundred years, they were constantly hounded by the British police, locked up in police stations and jails and cut off from their traditional occupations of making herbal medicine, tattooing, entertaining, iron mongering and selling goat meat. Slowly the men shifter from being entertainers to pimping and the women were forced into prostitution. When India became independent, the Criminal Tribe Act was nullified but the stigma and the branding remained. Jobs, livelihoods, land, housing, education and access to justice continue to evade the Nats. The same situation applies to the Perna community; read here to find out more. Apne Aap has developed a full approach to the empowerment of women and girls which you can read here; it is a lived example of the understanding of intersectionality in a concrete project, aiming to care for the very last girl.

We recommend the book Prem Nagar, the town of love, by Anne Ch. Ostby. “Everything that is important in this book is true. That human beings are bought and sold; that young girls are kidnapped and hidden away; that children are assaulted, abused and raped. That there are mothers who cry tears of desperation over their new-born girls’ cribs because they know the vicious cycle that awaits them - the same fate that lay in store for themselves, their mothers and their grandmothers. That those who reap the benefits of the human flesh trade, with its violence and brutality, mostly walk free”, the author said in a press article.

youth for abolition panel


The EWL has initiated Youth4Abolition, a coalition of youth organisations dedicated to the abolition of the system of prostitution in Europe. Representatives of feminist youth movements from Italy, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Spain, France and Norway, are currently working on their strategy, discussing the reality of sexual violence and exploitation against youth, prevention strategies, messages and European advocacy actions. Young people and children, especially young women and girls, are the first victims of prostitution and sex trafficking. In the Netherlands, 50% of prostituted persons in the “escort sector” started when they were younger than 20 years old. Young people are at higher risk because of the prevalence of sexual violence in society, the growing rape culture allowing for such violence and commodification to happen, their vulnerability to economic precariousness, and for some of them their migration or refugee status. The members of Youth4Abolition want another society, where men cannot buy women and girls’ bodies, where each and every person can be free from abuse, violence and exploitation.

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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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