By Elena Ralli
The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), together with Fondation Scelles and Mouvement du Nid France organized a conference in the European Parliament with the purpose of assessing 10 years of policies on prostitution in Sweden and the Netherlands. Around 200 women’s rights NGOs, coming from 25 Member States and four other countries have responded to the Brussels’ Call “Together for a Europe free from prostitution”.
As Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby states: “Anyone who knows anything about the reality of prostitution for the hundreds of thousands of women in Europe whom it has trapped cannot fail to endorse this call for urgent action from the EU and its member states.” And Grégoire Théry, Secretary General of Mouvement du Nid France added: “With the Brussels’ Call, we clearly see that the abolition of prostitution is a shared value across Europe. For all signatories of the Call, the EU policies on trafficking won’t achieve results as long as the impunity of procurers and sex-buyers is not addressed. ”
During the conference, NGOs explained why prostitution is a form of violence, an obstacle to equality, a violation of human dignity, and of human rights. They also made six recommendations to Member States in order to encourage them take additional measures for the eradication of prostitution. In particular, the recommendations included: the suppression of repressive measures against prostituted persons, the criminalization of all forms of procuring, the development of real alternatives and exit programmes for those in prostitution, the prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act, the implementation of policies of prevention, education to promote equality and positive sexuality and finally, the development of prevention policies in the countries of origin of prostituted persons.
At a global level, women constitute 85% of the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Reports indicate that 62% of women in prostitution have been raped and 9 out of 10 would like to exit the system but feel unable to do so. With trafficking in human beings being the second biggest source of illicit profits for criminals after drugs trade, the need to take action is urgent.