Breakthrough in Reports in the European Parliament and the Council of Europe

Criminalizing the purchase of sex is the best model to combat sexual exploitation

The ECPM manifesto states that: “Human Trafficking is an ultimate de-humanizing act that reduces people to goods. A majority of victims are used for sexual exploitation. The best solution is to encourage Member States to criminalize the purchase of sex.”

This position has recently been supported by two resolutions and reports: the Resolution on “Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution and its impact on Gender Equality” (called also the “Honeyball Report”) accepted by the European Parliament February 26th and the Resolution on “Prostitution, Trafficking and modern Slavery in Europe”, accepted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe  on April 8th.

The conclusions of both reports are clear but also worrying. Prostitution and the trafficking in human beings are closely linked. Prostitution is a form of slavery incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights and (as women are disproportionately represented among victims), an obstacle to gender equality. Also worrying is the fact that “trafficking in human beings in Europe is not only widespread but also on the rise where relevant convictions are falling”. Therefore the Council of Europe asked for a European wide research on prostitution and trafficking”. Human trafficking is not a national problem but a European-wide problem that should be tackled.

Because the reports see the clear link between human trafficking and prostitution, both reports also recommend that the Nordic model (where the purchase of sexual services constitutes a criminal act) is the most effective tool for preventing and combating trafficking in human beings. The resolution of the Council of Europe also calls amongst others to “ban the advertising of sexual services, including forms of disguised advertising” and “criminalize pimps (if they have not already done so)”.  If countries have legalized prostitution they are urged to consider in any case the minimum legal age to 21.

Leo van Doesburg, ECPM Director for European Affairs and Policy Advising: “It is good to see that these reports fully support the position the ECPM has always had concerning the problem of human trafficking and prostitution. The next step is that every EU member state will take these conclusions seriously and will use them to analyze critically and objectively their current prostitution policies. After that, it is important to change these policies, if necessary, to effectively combat the modern slavery of trafficking human persons for sexual exploitation”  

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