Call for EU ban on prostitution

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) last Tuesday launched a call to end prostitution in the EU.

According to information on the EWL website, the call, entitled ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’ was already supported by 200 women’s organizations across 25 member states, and a dozen MEPs, covering all the political groups in the European Parliament at launch.

Arguing that prostitution is a form of violence against women, the call makes six recommendations to EU policy makers to achieve its aims (lifted verbatim from the EWL site):

  1. the suppression of repressive measures against prostituted persons
  2. the criminalisation of all forms of procuring
  3. the development of real alternatives and exit programmes for those in prostitution
  4. the prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act
  5. the implementation of policies of prevention, education, to promote equality and positive sexuality
  6. the development of prevention policies in the countries of origin of prostituted persons

The official pdf version of the call also includes a quote from Victor Hugo comparing prostitution, not trafficking, to slavery, and the transatlantic slave trade in particular judging from the phrasing.

Not surprisingly, the call is being criticized by some women’s rights activists on various listserves. I have not yet been able to locate a list of the 200 groups that are supportive. The MEPs that spoke in favour of the call at its launch included:

  • Sophie Auconie (France, EPP)
  • Emer Costello (Ireland, S&D)
  • Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria, EPP)
  • Mikael Gustafsson (Sweden, GUE)
  • Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (France, Greens)
  • Antonyia Parvanova (Bulgaria, ALDE)
  • Inês Zuber (Portugal, GUE)

The Red Umbrella Fund, a global grantmaking project by and for sex workers run by Mama Cash, is collecting responses to the call on its facebook page. These so far include: Transgender Europe (TGEU), the English Collective of Prostitutes, and Libby Brooks in The Guardian’s Comment is Free.

Image of a black and white photo of a trumpet taken from the bell end in, by magnuscanis, shared under a Creative Commons license