Human rights

France is paving the way towards a progressive Europe free from prostitution

6 Dicembre Dic 2013 1359 06 dicembre 2013

The European Women’s Lobby welcomes the vote of the French Parliament that has adopted a law proposal aiming at abolishing the system of prostitution

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The European Women’s Lobby welcomes the vote of the French Parliament that has adopted a law proposal aiming at abolishing the system of prostitution

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest association of women’s rights organizations in the European Union, welcomes the vote of the French Parliament, which has adopted a law proposal aiming at abolishing the system of prostitution. After two years of debate, French parliamentarians decided to support a new legislation aiming at supporting prostituted persons and considering prostitution as an obstacle to gender equality and a violation of human rights and dignity.
The law will address all actors involved in the system of prostitution, in a comprehensive way. People in prostitution won’t be criminalized anymore and, on the contrary, will be offered alternatives to exit the system of prostitution. The demand for prostitution is recognized as the main driver of the exploitation, and the purchase of sex will therefore be criminalized. The fight against all forms of procuring and trafficking is strengthened, highlighting the links between prostitution and trafficking. Finally, prevention and education actions will be implemented to raise awareness of the reality of prostitution as a form of violence.
“France is now joining Sweden, Norway and Iceland, whose successful and progressive policies on prostitution are based on the fundamental principles of equality between women and men, human dignity, solidarity and justice. We congratulate the French parliamentarians for their courageous stance against the system of prostitution which exploits the most vulnerable, perpetuates male domination and fuels trafficking in women”, says Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby.
Together with the 200 NGOs from all over Europe, which have signed the Brussels’ Call ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, the EWL sees the French developments on prostitution as a sign that mentalities are evolving towards shared values of equality and dignity.
Debates are taking place in other European countries, and several are considering the Nordic model as the best way to implement gender equality, reduce violence against women, and tackle trafficking: the Irish Parliament issued a report recommending the criminalisation of the purchase of sex; the Cypriot Ombudswoman is pointing out to the links between prostitution and trafficking and the role of the demand for prostitution; the Finnish Justice Minister is supporting a full ban on purchasing sex, taking stock of the failure of his legislation to address trafficking when criminalizing only sex buyers from trafficked or exploited women.
“France is sending the clear message that 21st century societies are to be free from systems of prostitution. This is a unique moment for all the women still in prostitution and for all the survivors who have supported this move, and we want to pay tribute to their courage and strength”, says Pierrette Pape, Coordinator of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’.
The EWL also congratulates the French coalition of women’s organisations, Abolition 2012, which has played a key role in raising awareness on the reality of prostitution at all levels. The next step in France will be the debate in the Senate, and the EWL, together with the 200 signatories of the Brussels’ Call, calls on all senators to confirm the abolitionist stance taken by France.