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The Swedish Women’s Organisation launches a new campaign against sex trafficking during the Swedish presidency of the EU

The Swedish Women’s Organisation together with the #intedinhora organisation and the support of the Brussels’ Call, the European Women’s Lobby and CAP International are launching the EUquality Model Now campaign against prostitution and human trafficking in Europe. The purpose of the campaign is to diffuse knowledge about how criminalising the purchase of sex and criminalising pimping reduce the demand for prostitution and offers protection to victims of prostitution.

As part of the campaign, an exhibition and a film with testimonies from women who survived prostitution were produced. The testimonies and the film aim at showing the reality behind prostitution and letting the survivors’voices be heard. It was first shown during the Forum Equality conference in Malmö, Sweden, on 7 and 8 of February. The exhibition will be exhibited in more places, including Brussels and it is also available online.

Internationally, legislation that criminalises the purchase but not the sale of sexual acts is described as the Equality Model. This is because the responsibility for prostitution is shifted from the person who is exploited to the person who pimps or buys another person for sex. In recent years, France, Israel and Canada, among others, have introduced and further developed legislation based on the Equality Model.

“Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce a Sex Purchase Act. It has changed people’s attitudes towards prostitution and reduced the demand for women’s bodies. It is promising that several countries have introduced similar legislation in recent years. However, if we really want to counter the sex trade and protect all women from violence, a joint offensive against the sex industry is required throughout the EU”, says Nathalia Guaje, project manager at Sweden’s Women’s Organisation.

Additionally to an initiative report on prostitution, a proposal for a Directive on combatting violence against women and domestic violence will be voted on at the European Parliament over the next few months. This Directive is a unique opportunity for member states to raise their minimum standards when it comes to combating sexual exploitation and to make sure that all women in the European Union get the same protection from violence, including protection from being bought for sex.

“The Equality Model is about stating loud and clear that consent cannot be bought and that the stigma should not be on the shoulders of women in prostitution but on the so-called “sex-buyers”. This is why lawmakers need to decriminalise women in prostitution and offer them well-funded exit and support programmes while criminisaling sex-buyers and pimps. Let’s end the culture of commodification and objectification of women’s bodies now!”, says Réka Safrany, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

The exhibition is available here.

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