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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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CAP International 3rd World Congress Mainz 2019

CAP International held their third world congress in April this year in Mainz, Germany, with the title Prostitution: Neither Sex Nor Work. The event was hosted by SOLWODI, a German member organisation, Armut und Gesundheit e.V., and organised with the support and participation of the whole abolitionist movement in Germany.

The Congress was opened by a Survivors’ Day on the 2nd of April, where an extraordinary group of prostitution survivors from Germany and all over the world called on German’s authorities to fully revisit their harmful public policies on prostitution. The international public conference followed, on the 3rd and 4th, with over 300 participants and 40 speakers from 30 countries. Iroko’s Executive Director, Esohe Aghatise, was among them, standing alongside the most important figures in this movement, survivors. The conference addressed the realities of prostitution and sexual exploitation in the world, their severe impact on health, and their consequences on sexual violence and gender inequalities. The event being hosted in Germany was also a key feature, which highlighted the extremely preoccupying situation in a country that has come to be known as the “brothel of Europe”. 

Watch the video below to see some highlights from the event or listen to this podcast by Vancouver Rape Relief’s, recorded at the congress. In this episode, VRR asked women from different abolitionist groups, including Esohe Aghatise, to dispel prostitution myths.

 

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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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Global Abolitionist Network fighting Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

In early February Iroko’s Executive Director, Esohe Aghatise, and two members of the team went to Madrid to attend CATW and the Commission for the Investigation of Harms Against Women’s (Comisión Para La Investigación De Malos Tratos A Mujeres, CIMTM) global conference entitled Centering Women and Girls in Ending Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation: The Architecture of the 5.2 Global Partnership. Not only did the conference give invaluable insights into the challenges facing this movement to end trafficking and sexual exploitation and some of the tools and projects in place to tackle them, but it provided an opportunity to come together with an inspiring group of women and men who work every day to protect the rights of women and girls around the world.

The conference consisted of 8 panels of experts, journalists, survivors, activists and many more, across two days, including speakers from all over the world. Among them were CATW’s Board of Directors, who began the conference talking about the successes and challenges they’ve seen over the organisation’s 30 years. Aurora Javate-de Dios highlighted the hypocrisy that many self-proclaimed feminist organisations demonstrate today, citing the example of the scandal surrounding Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2010, where representatives of a global organisation promoting human rights and equality were supporting earthquake victims one day and buying women’s bodies for sexual services the next. Janice Raymond recognised the huge contribution and strength that survivors have brought to this movement over the years. Ruchira Gupta brought forward a theme that continued throughout the conference: the question of language and the powerful role it plays. When asked what she would change given a magic wand, she proposed the removal of the concept of ‘consensual sex’ from our collective vocabulary, and its replacement with ‘welcome sex’. Leggi tutto

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‘Paid for’ in Turin: Rachel Moran and the violence of prostitution

It took Rachel Moran 10 years to write her book Paid For: My Journey through Prostitution, where she recounts not only the seven years she spent in prostitution, but also offers an extremely thought-provoking and profound analysis of the phenomenon of prostitution itself, where various forms of social discrimination overlap. Discrimination based on gender and race is rife and disproportionately affects women, often the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. Having made this observation and reflection, the idea for her book was born, and the book itself, along with Moran’s activism, has become a political tool in the fight against prostitution.

“I’ve never heard a statistic as as the Canadian situation,” Moran tells us, “where 56% of prostituted women are indigenous Canadian, but only 6% of the nation is indigenous Canadian, as so of course only 3% of the nation is indigenous female Canadian. So we’re talking about more than half of the prostituted population drawn from just 3% of society. You can’t look at stats like that and not see that racism is running right through prostitution in multi-racial societies. A friend of mine who runs a facility in Minnesota, year on year deals with around 70% young African American girls, but this is in a state whose population is only 10% African American.”

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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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Oba of Benin (Edo State) revokes curses on victims of trafficking

Oba Ewuare II, the King of Benin (current Edo State, Nigeria) has ordered native doctors of Edo State to revoke all of the curses and oaths placed on victims of trafficking, himself invoking a curse on all those native doctors who continue to force or coerce victims into taking oaths.


This important event took place on 9th March during a ceremony, held in the Royal Palace of Benin City, to which many priests and native doctors were invited, as well as representatives from NAPTIP, the government agency which works to tackle human trafficking and members of the government task force that is fighting against trafficking. Iroko is an active member of this task force (here are some pictures from the ceremony taken by representatives of the task force).
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