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Good News from Germany: Time for a Paradigm Shift on Prostitution?

We are happy to hear that some German politicians are recognising the failures of Germany’s prostitution regime and endorsing the Abolitionist Model as an alternative. Below we have translated an article into English, which quotes two members of the German Union parties. 

The original can be found here.

Effectively combatting human trafficking
Criminalise buyers in prostitution

In response to discussions within the SPD (Social Democratic Party) parliamentary group about making the purchase of sexual services punishable by law while offering the prostitutes themselves impunity – two pillars of the ‘Nordic model’ of prostitution -, deputy chairman, Thorsten Frei, and the rights and consumer policy spokeswoman, Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, both of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, said:

Thorsten Frei: “In reality, for many women prostitution means that they are attracted by false pretenses, exploited and abused for years in the most serious ways. That is why we are committed to adopting the ‘Nordic model’ in Germany as well, because within this model the buyers, but not the prostitutes, are liable to prosecution. Numerous European countries – Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland – are already using this model. We must ensure that there is no room for degrading services such as sexual flat rates. We want to effectively continue the fight against forced prostitution and trafficking that was started by the previous legislature, without criminalizing the prostitutes themselves. For this, we will approach our coalition partner, from whose ranks this proposal has been made, and hope that they support this project. “

Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker: “Self-determined prostitution is the exception in practice. In many cases, prostitutes are sexually exploited in unimaginable ways. We should also be concerned as a society when the image many men have of women is characterised by sex. A paradigm shift is therefore necessary. Germany must not be the brothel of Europe.”

 

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18 MYTHS on prostitution

In 2014, in the framework of its campaign Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, and at the eve of the vote of the EP resolution on gender equality and prostitution (Honeyball resolution), the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) developed a leaflet responding to the most frequent assumptions on prostitution. 18 myths are therefore looked at from a gender equality and women’s rights perspective. From “It is the oldest profession in the world” to “We must combat trafficking, but prostitution has nothing to do with it”, EWL’s leaflet wants to provide human rights evidence-based answers to the reality of prostitution and trafficking in women in Europe and in the world.

The leaflet also comprises a comparison of the Swedish and Dutch policies, after ten years of implementation, based on official reports and studies. The last page summarises the demands of the Brussels’ Call, which has been signed by more than 200 organisations from all over Europe and beyond, including IROKO. In 2014, 54 MEPs had already signed it, from different countries and political groups.

Read the full leaflet here.

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From the Merlin Law to the Abolitionist Model

The Italian law no. 75 from 1958, which carries the name of Senator Lina Merlin, has turned 61. This law, as we know, abolished brothels – 560 of them when it was approved -, the embodiment of State regulation of prostitution. It abolished the keeping of records of prostituted women, freeing them from the heavy stigma and providing an opportunity for them to escape from prostitution. Essentially, this law aimed to avoid any woman being forced, coerced or encouraged to get into or to remain in prostitution.

The Merlin Law can be seen as a pioneer for recent abolitionist laws, approved in various countries around the world and it serves as our point of reference to reflect both culturally and politically on prostitution itself.

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Convention on the Sex Industry and Human Trafficking, Rome, May 2018

“We all want to find ways for the women to be safe. But we know that the women and the men, the boys and the girls can never be safe in prostitution. We can only reduce the harm. That’s not good enough. We don’t talk about reducing the harm for sexually abused children or women who are raped. We talk about ending it. And yet, when you talk about ending the sex trade, many people laugh at you and say ‘we can’t stop prostitution’. I say ‘really? Do you not think that we can end poverty?’ and they’ll say yes. ‘Do you think that we can end child sexual abuse?’ ‘Well, yes.’ ‘Do you think we can end racism?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well why can’t you imagine ending prostitution? Men are not born with this innate desire to have sex with a woman who isn’t consenting. We call that socialisation and patriarchy. Of course there is no innate need for men to have one-sided consensual sex with a woman who doesn’t want to be there. The propagandists that spin the mythology that leads people to say legalisation is the only way, know very well that, if they say prostitution is inevitable, it’s always been here and it always will be here, people somehow absorb this and believe it. If I hear the phrase ‘the oldest profession’ one more time, I might have to do some damage. Of course it’s not a profession. Of course that isn’t the case. Children have been sexually abused forever. Does that make it natural and inevitable? Of course it doesn’t.”

Julie Bindel, Convention on the Sex Industry and Human Trafficking, Rome, May 2018.

To read Julie Bindel’s speech in full, as well as others from the convention, click here.

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62nd UN Commision on the Status of Women – the #MeToo Side Event

At the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) organised a side event entitled #MeToo Say Survivors: Human Rights, Gender and Trafficking in Human Beings. After a year in which sexual misconduct and the abuse and exploitation of women, particularly in the film industry, has been under the spotlight, this event served as an opportunity to discuss the plight of trafficked women both in the context of the #MeToo movement and through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.2 on eliminating violence against women.

Survivor leaders Autumn Burris, Mickey Meji and Shandra Woworuntu were at the center of the conversation, alongside representatives from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) International, UN Women, UNODC and Equality Now. They were also joined by Mira Sorvino, who is not only the UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Trafficking in Persons but has been instrumental in the inception and development of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

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Convention on the sex industry and human trafficking 28th May

IROKO Association, Resistenza Femminista, Unione Donne Italiane di Napoli , Salute Donna and Differenza Donna are holding a day of talks and reflection on the sex industry and human trafficking on 28th May 2018 from 15:00 to 19:00. It will be held in the “Aldo Moro” room in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome. Taking part in these talks will be the honourable Fabiana Dadone (from the 5 Star Movement) and Senator Edoardo Patriarca (from the Democratic Party).

Julie Bindel, writer and journalist (The Guardian, New Statesman, Sunday Telegraph, Standpoint), co-founder of Justice For Women and author of the book entitled The Pimping of Prostitution – an investigation into the global sex trade, drawing on interviews with 250 women from 40 countries – will be among international speakers at the event. Alongside her; Ingeborg Kraus, a German psychologist and trauma expert, who has held conferences around the world on the failure of the German Model (legalising prostitution), and the links between trauma and prostitution; Rachel Moran, an Irish survivor of prostitution, author of the book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution and co-founder of SPACE International, an association of women who have escaped from prostitution; Blessing Okoedion, activist, author of the book Il coraggio della libertà (The Courage of Freedom), who has lived through the experience of being trafficked to Italy; Giovani Conzo, the anti-mafia prosecutor, who has been involved in significant trials of trafficked Nigerian women in Italy.

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The Nordic Model response to prostitution

In the last twenty to thirty years, the trafficking of young women and children from poor countries to Europe for sexual exploitation has greatly changed the face of prostitution in Europe.
The response of European governments to this presence and to the problem has thus generally been to legalise and introduce state regulation of prostitution.
At national and international ​ forums, prostitution and trafficking have generated discussion and raised different complex issues at various levels, due to the large presence of these young women and children from poor countries, who are forced/induced into prostitution in the West.
As one of the countries at the forefront of the problem of sex trafficking and prostitution, due to the huge influx of trafficking victims into its territory, the Italian Government is searching for an adequate and effective response to these problems.
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