FEMM Press Release, European Parliament
Parliament, on Thursday 14th September, called for EU action to tackle prostitution and eradicate poverty.
The report on prostitution in the EU and its impact on gender equality and women’s rights was approved by MEPs with 234 votes in favour, 175 against and 122 abstentions.
The report highlights that the disparity between national rules on prostitution within the EU, given its cross-border nature, increases the number of victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and makes it a platform for organised crime. Member States should review existing legislation to avoid loopholes, which allow criminals to operate with impunity. The Commission is called on to develop common EU guidelines to guarantee the fundamental rights of people in prostitution.
Measures to reduce demand and advertising online:
According to the MEPs, prostitution and sexual exploitation exist because there is a demand for it. Reducing demand is therefore crucial to prevent and reduce human trafficking and must be done in a way that does not harm people in prostitution, they say. MEPs call on Member States to take urgent action to tackle online advertising that directly or indirectly encourages prostitution or seeks to attract buyers.
MEPs also call for support and cooperation with the police and other law enforcement agencies, social and health services and NGOs to tackle human trafficking and sexual exploitation and protect women in prostitution.
Access to essential services and protection of rights of people in prostitution:
The deteriorating social and economic situation due to COVID-19, and the current energy and cost of living crisis have led to an increase in all forms of abuse and violence against women, including sexual exploitation, with many women in vulnerable situations of poverty and social exclusion.
MEPs demand an efficient policy against poverty. They want to improve social protection, promote education and establish policies that support women’s empowerment and economic independence, along with measures that condemn those who abuse.
People in prostitution face the constant threat of police and legal prosecution and are marginalised and stigmatised, the report says. This hinders their ability to seek justice. MEPs call for full access to good health and social services, as well as to the justice system and pathways out of prostitution.
Quote: Maria Noichl (S&D, Duitsland), Rapporteur: “Today, Parliament gives a voice to people, and especially women, who are too often overlooked, marginalised and stigmatised in our society. We support those who have long warned about the reality of prostitution. This report outlines why the vast majority of people end up in prostitution, and highlights the way forward: creating exit programs and alternatives, eradicating poverty and social exclusion, dismantling stereotypes and inequalities, and reducing demand by targeting buyers.”