EWL News

European conference in Milan to debate prostitution and human rights, 21 March 2014

[Brussels and Milan, 20 March 2014] LEF Italia (Il Coordinamento Italiano della Lobby Europea delle Donne) and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest coalition of women’s NGOs in Europe, will on 21 March host a European conference on “Prostitution and human rights: ending violence against women in Europe” in Milan. The conference aims at bringing the issues of prostitution and trafficking in women and girls on the political agenda of Italy, and involving decision-makers in reflecting on possible ways forward to address the growing sex industry and exploitation of women and girls in Italy from a women’s human rights perspective.

Hosted by the European Parliament Office in the framework of a series of events on “Europe is for women”, the event takes place three weeks after a historic vote by the European Parliament of a resolution on “Prostitution, sexual exploitation and its impact on gender equality”. Adopted on 26 February, the resolution clearly states that prostitution is a violation of human dignity and contrary to human rights principles, “therefore contrary to the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the goal and the principle of gender equality”.

While Europol has recently stated that the legalization of prostitution leads to an increase of trafficking , many EU countries are looking at the Nordic model to address the links between prostitution and trafficking in women and girls. Last December, the French National Assembly adopted a proposal of law which would bring the Nordic model to France. Two weeks ago, the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade issued its report “Shifting the burden” , calling for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, while protecting persons in prostitution and providing them exit programmes.

The conference therefore comes at a timely moment to discuss possible ways forward in terms of policies and actions. The conference will bring parliamentarians, experts and NGOs from France, Germany and Italy: Maud Olivier, member of the French National Assembly and rapporteur of the proposal of law on prostitution; Beatrice Mariotti, member of the German NGO Solwodi; Esohe Aghatise, founder of Associazione IROKO Onlus; Pierrette Pape, Acting Coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby; Oria Gargano, expert to the EWL Observatory on violence against women; Resistenza Femminista. The organisers have invited several Members of the European Parliament to join too.

LEF Italia and the European Women’s Lobby hold that prostitution is a form of violence against women which hinders the realisation of equality between women and men, and that the EU and its Member States should develop comprehensive strategies on ending violence against women and prostitution, and promoting women’s human rights. “It is not surprising that the lack of EU and national policies on prostitution has led to an increase in procuring and fuels trafficking in women into Europe for sexual purposes and sex tourism”, explains Siusi Casaccia, President of LEF Italia and EWL Board member. “In order to ambitiously realise women’s human rights, the EU and its Member States, including Italy, must uppermost support persons in prostitution, and tackle procuring and the demand side of the phenomenon through awareness raising, education to equality and effective sanctions to prostitute-users and procurers.”

The event is part of the EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, which benefit from the support of more than 50 Members of the European Parliament. The EWL initiated the Brussels’ Call, an abolitionist manifesto on prostitution, which has been signed by more than 200 NGOs from all over Europe.

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For further information, please contact:

At the European Women’s Lobby:

  • • In Brussels: Ms Elvira Buijink, EWL Communications and Media Officer, Tel: (32) 02.210.04.40, buijink@womenlobby.org, www.womenlobby.org
  • • In Milan on 21 March: Ms Pierrette Pape, EWL Acting Coordinator, Tel: +32 486 39 17 17
  • • In Milan on 21 March: Siusi Casaccia, President of LEF Italia, Tel: +39.3356670754 / Maria Ludovica Bottarelli Tranquilli Leali, Secretary General of LEF Italia, Tel: +39 3386580531

Note to editors:

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 27 EU Member States and four candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations.

LEF Italia is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in Italy, and the national coordination of the EWL in Italy, working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men.

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