[Paris, 13 novembre 2014] The French National Assembly hosted on 12 November the first International Abolitionist Congress, gathering decision-makers, activists, NGO representatives, trade unions, survivors and citizens committed to the abolition of the system of prostitution and the realisation of equality between women and men.
Organised by CAP International (Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution), a network of frontline organisations working at assisting and supporting persons in prostitution, the event sent a strong signal that prostitution needs to be addressed from a global perspective. Coming from India, Canada, the United States, Ireland, the UK, France, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark and Portugal, all speakers called for political courage to address a system which exploits the most vulnerable groups and support patriarchal values of male domination, inequality and injustice. In the room, participants were also from South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Colombia, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Austria and Lebanon.
French Minister of State Pascale Boistard opened the Congress: "Giving buyers the right to buy women, it is giving to pimps the right to sell them. France is not a welcome country for criminals networks. We need to realise the wish of Victor Hugo, expressed 150 years ago."
On Friday 13 November, the 7 parliamentarians from France, Ireland, Canada, Portugal and the UK, launched the November 13 International Call "It is through law that the abolition of prostitution will move forward". With the call, the parliamentarians launch an international network of decision-makers committed to a world of equality and respect, through the abolition of the system of prostitution.
You will find below quotes from the speakers of the Congress:
Fatima Khatoon, Survivor leader from the Nat semi-nomadic community - Apne Aap, India: "In India, as discriminated minority, we are grown up to be in prostitution. By we also have dreams. Every time a girl’s dreams are crashed, it is not a choice. Prostitution is commercial rape. Legalising prostitution will endanger the lives of women and girls from low cast and discriminated groups." Sign Apne Aap petition to stop India!
Michèle Taïna Audette, Chair of the Native’s Women Association: "Prostitution is the worst form of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional violence. Behind every girl who disappear, there is a broken future."
Tanja Rahm, survivor of prostitution, SPACE International, Denmark: "No society would accept these stories if they were told by men. Prostitution is about male right to violate women."
Rosen Hicher, survivor of prostitution, France:
“All women and girls have dreams. But they don’t dream about being in prostitution. Society has a duty to provide all women and girls, especially the most vulnerable ones, with the opportunities to reach their dreams.”
Edward Matthews from INMO and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions: “Work is not inherently harmful. Prostitution is. We give up as much freedom as it is necessary to have freedom for us all. The use of a person for no other purpose than sexual gratification is in my opinion very close to rape”.
Sabine Reynosa from CGT-Femmes, France: “Is there any other occupation where you have to dissociate yourself?”
Véronique de Sève, from the Canadian CSN (Confederation of national trade unions): “Prostitution is about trading women’s and girls’ bodies and sexualities. A truly progressive society encourages the equality and dignity of women, not the prostitution of women.”
Gavin Shuker, MP, Chairman of the all-party group on prostitution, United Kingdom: "Prostitution is an issue of men’s choice. We need to shift the burden of criminality from those who are exploited to those who exploit. Legal change is a prerequisite to cultural change."
Jose Mendes Bota, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: "We are here to give a voice to women are are voiceless and being abused: let’s break the silence!"
Article in LeRepublicainLorrain: "Prostitution, the oldest oppression in the world".
Press article on the launch of the network of abolitionist parliamentarians in La Dépêche de Tahiti.