European & International News

Equality Ministers launch the Brussels’ Declaration to prevent prostitution

[Brussels, 30 September 2013] The French and Belgian ministers in charge of equality between women and men, Ms Najat Vallaud Belkacem and Ms Joëlle Milquet, organized on 30 September an inter-ministerial conference to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the UN New York Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The two ministers launched the Brussels’ Declaration, which calls for a gender perspective in the fight against the exploitation of women and girls, and more prevention of prostitution. 18 out of the 28 EU Member States have signed the Convention and should therefore implement in their country an abolitionist approach to prostitution, which means protection the prostituted persons and criminalizing all forms of pimping and trafficking. The Brussels’ Declaration also stresses the urgency to address the demand for prostitution and to work on the root causes of prostitution and trafficking.

With the Brussels’ Declaration, the 18 EU Member States reiterated the principle that the human body is not for sale, that prostitution exploits the most vulnerable, especially women and girls, and that the hypersexualisation of society is detrimental to equality between women and men. Ms Vallaud Belkacem said: “Prostitution is the mirror of male domination over women; the fight against the exploitation of prostitution of others is key for the realization of true equality”. The Queen Mathilde introduced the ministers’ panel by stating that human dignity, equality and respect should be at the core of the discussion, and stressed on the need for coordinated EU action.

This Declaration is another great initiative putting back the fight against the systems of prostitution and sexual exploitation of women at the core of European and national policies. The 18 ministers have decided to meet again in two years to discuss progress and ways forward.

During the conference, the European Women’s Lobby got the opportunity to present a question to the ministers and hopes that they will remain committed to women’s rights through their action to abolish the system of prostitution in their country and in Europe.

“In December 2012, 200 women’s rights organisations from all over Europe endorsed the Brussels’ Call “Together for a Europe free from prostitution” which refers to the New York Convention as a fundamental human rights instrument. On 1 October 2013, 46 Members of the European Parliament will express their support to the Brussels’ Call, demonstrating that there is a European abolitionist movement 65 years after the adoption of the New York Convention.
Your country has signed the New York Convention: will you ensure that the Convention is fully implemented in your country, with no exception in the protection of prostituted persons and the criminalization of all forms of procuring? Will you raise awareness about prostitution being a violation of human dignity, as stated in the Convention?
Survivors from different countries are not speaking out about the reality of prostitution; they need all of our and your support to end the pervasive system of prostitution.”

Click here to read the press release of the conference and Brussels’ Declaration (in French).

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