At the EU level

Successful launch of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’

The press conference organised by the European Women’s Lobby on 17 June 2011 in Brussels to launch its campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, was a great success. It was attended by journalists from national and European media, including the Parliament Magazine. EWL Vice-President Alexandra Jachanova introduced the EWL and its work on ending prostitution, and presented the EWL campaign material, including the video clip directed by Frédérique Pollet Rouyer and Patric Jean.

Patric Jean explained how he came up with the idea of the scenario for the clip, which is based on EWL’s wish to address men and call on them to stand up and take a stance against the system of prostitution. “The main target is people who have no opinion or don’t know much about prostitution, and who are ready to doubt and question. I hope that some people will doubt their certitude about prostitution and their willingness to legalise the system of prostitution.” The EWL’s primary goal with the campaign is indeed to raise awareness on the reality of prostitution, and to provoke discussion and debate amongst viewers. Patric Jean added that the clip is very innovative for the way it addresses the issue, as it does not take the usual viewpoint of women in prostitution. “What is hardly discussed is the image of men, their representation as sex-driven, which is not true; it is rather a case of education.”

Grégoire Théry, spokesperson for the Belgian NGO Sawa, which supports and assists prostituted persons, expressed its opinion regarding the campaign and the clip. “The issue is not only about violence in and around prostitution, but it is about prostitution as violence in itself. It’s the very first time that a clip focuses on prostitution as violence in itself. We see on the ground that when men pay for sex, they impose sex. When you have to undergo several intercourses with people per day, we consider that it is violence.”

Regarding the advocacy goal of the EWL, journalists asked questions regarding the possible legislative options and questioned the efficiency of the Swedish model. EWL representatives gave facts and figures about the impact of the Swedish law on prostituted persons and on trafficking in human beings in Sweden, compared to the situation in the Netherlands or Germany, where the law considers prostitution as a commercial activity. The EWL would like to see actions adressed at the four main actors of the system of prostitution: education to sexuality and equality for all, protection and exit programmes for prostituted persons, criminalisation of prostitute-users, and criminalisation of procuring and trafficking. Grégoire Théry strongly supports such a model: “The law has a normative effect and gives standards for further implementation, including training of the police and justice professionals. It’s hard to make prevention if you don’t have a reference in the law.”

Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the CFFB and EWL Board member, concluded by calling for a comprehensive discussion, which should include EU and national commitment to the fundamental principle of equality between women and men: “It’s interesting to noe that the countries with an abolitionist law are the ones with a general stance on equality between women and men as a priority. We should broaden the scope of the debate and really reflect on the kind of society we want for the future.”

The launch of the campaign has been widely reported in many media, in Belgium, Portugal, France, Hungary, Bulgaria… Find out more in the section ‘Media coverage’.

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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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