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18th June

 Update: Blinkered lawmaking...


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Netherlands proposes law against customers of sex workers who have been trafficked
Link Here  full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
tweede kamer.svg logo A majority of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Netherlands are supporting plans to make it an offence to pay for sex if sex workers are known or suspected to be victims of human trafficking. Sex work itself is legal in Holland.

Under the proposed law, clients will face prosecution if they could be shown to have had a serious suspicion that the sex worker was working under duress. Similar laws are in place in countries such as Sweden, Finland and parts of the United Kingdom.

In Finland, where a similar law was introduced in 2015, it has made it harder to investigate trafficking. Jaana Kauppinen, who runs the sex worker-led organisation Pro-Tukipiste, says the new law is a failure:

When the attempt to buy sex is a punishable offence, the client has broken the law even if he turns and walks out the door and would have wanted to inform the police. The buyer no longer has the chance to look out for signs of human trafficking in those initial stages, she says.

Detective chief sergeant Kenneth Eriksson, who has worked with sex workers for almost twenty years, says that prosecuting someone who gives police information about a human trafficker is nonsensical.

Of course there is always the risk that a client is scared of being prosecuted. Some people could, from now on, keep quiet, although we do have clients calling us sometimes and passing on information, even now.

If a client sees a sex worker is in some way being controlled and informs police, I would go so far as to say, at least with the situation in the capital, that that client should not be prosecuted. He has brought the problem to the authorities' attention.

 

26th May

  Calling for an amnesty for sex workers and their customers...


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Amnesty International formally adopts the policy to oppose the criminalisation of adult sex work
Link Here
amnesty international logo Amnesty International has published its policy and research on protecting sex workers from human rights violations and abuses.

Amnesty's new policy recommends the decriminalisation of consensual sex work, including those laws that prohibit associated activities -- such as bans on buying, soliciting and arranging and organising sex work.

Specifically, it urges governments to ensure protection of sex workers from harm, exploitation and coercion; to enable sex workers to participate in the development of laws that affect their lives and safety; an end to discrimination, access to education and employment options for all.

Amnesty's policy is the culmination of extensive worldwide consultations, analysis of substantive evidence, international human rights standards and first-hand research carried out over more than two years.

It is based on evidence that laws criminalising sex work often make workers less safe and provide impunity for abusers with workers often too scared of being penalised to report the crime to the police.

The policy also strongly reinforces Amnesty's position that forced labour, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking are abhorrent human rights abuses requiring concerted action and which, under international law, must be criminalised in every country.

Amnesty International's Senior Director for Law and Policy Tawanda Mutasah said:

Sex workers are at heightened risk of a whole host of human rights abuses including rape, violence, extortion and discrimination. Far too often they receive no, or very little, protection from the law or means for redress.

Our policy outlines how governments must do more to protect sex workers from violations and abuse. Our research highlights their testimony and the daily issues they face.

We want laws to be refocused on making sex workers' lives safer and improving the relationship they have with the police while addressing the very real issue of exploitation. We want governments to make sure no one is coerced to sell sex, or is unable to leave sex work if they choose to.

Protecting from exploitation and abuse

Laws on sex work should focus on protecting people from exploitation and abuse, rather than trying to ban all sex work and penalise sex workers.

Amnesty also published today research on the impact of sex work in Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Norway and Argentina which shows that sex workers often received no, or very little protection from abuse, or access to legal redress, even in countries where the act of selling sex itself is legal. This is in part due to criminalisation, which further endangers and marginalises them and impedes their ability to seek protection from violence and legal and social services.

Amnesty found that rather than focusing on protecting sex workers from violence and crime, law enforcement officials in many countries focus on prohibiting sex work through surveillance, harassment and raids.

Tawanda Mutasah added:

Sex workers have told us how criminalisation enables the police to harass them and not prioritise their complaints and safety.

In too many places around the world sex workers are without protection of the law, and suffering awful human rights abuses. This situation can never be justified. Governments must act to protect the human rights of all people, sex workers included. Decriminalisation is just one of several necessary steps governments can take to ensure protection from harm, exploitation and coercion.

Amnesty joins a large group of organisations from across a range of disciplines and areas of expertise who are supporting or calling for decriminalisation of consensual sex work. These include the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women; Global Commission on HIV and the Law; Human Rights Watch; UNAIDS; the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health; and World Health Organisation.

Our stance

Amnesty calls on governments to ensure:

  • All people can access their economic, social and cultural rights, education and employment options
  • An end to harmful gender stereotypes and all forms of discrimination and structural inequalities that can lead to marginalised groups selling sex in disproportionate numbers
  • A refocusing of sex work laws away from catch-all offences that criminalise most or all aspects of sex work towards laws that provide protection from coercion including trafficking, acts of exploitation and abuse, and prevent the involvement of children in commercial sex.
  • The removal of criminal and other punitive regulation of consensual sex work between adults which reinforces marginalisation, stigma and discrimination and can deny sex workers access to justice under the law.
  • The participation of sex workers in the development of laws and policies that directly affect their lives and safety.
  • Effective frameworks that allow people to leave sex work if and when they choose.
  • That sex workers have equal access to justice, health care and other public services, and equal protection under the law.

 

12th May

 Update: A load off their backs...

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Sex workers successfully challenge suffocating local morality licence fees
Link Here
state council belgium logo The State council in the district of Saint-Josse, Brussels, ordered the suspension of the police regulation of window sex work introduced on the 30th of November, 2015.

The regulation prohibited sex work activities from 23h to 7h and stated sex workers could not work on Sundays. Sex work was allowed only in four streets of the town. The regulation also required sex workers to obtain a certificate of conformity, which costs 2500 EUROS.

The spokesperson of the Belgian sex workers union UTSOPI Maxime Maes, stated:

In order to work in a window in Brussels, sex workers needed to buy the licence, it cost 2500 euros and it is valid for 5 years. Then the sex worker needed to pay 3000 euros every year to the municipality of Saint-Josse. Totally it makes 5500 euros. To pay this money an average sex worker needs 220 clients. It is a lot of money.

Five sex workers from the area filed a lawsuit for the suspension of the regulation before the Council of State.

The court found the certificates of conformity, the municipal administrative sanctions, and the enforced closing hours to be illegal. The town of Saint-Josse clearly committed an abuse of power by setting strict timetables during which sex work could take place. Vincent Letellier, the lawyer of the sex workers who lodged an action with the Council explained:

Individual districts are not competent enough to operate a licence system - for which you have to be a licence holder to be able to be a prostitute - or to issue regulation within the field of prostitution, accompanied by administrative penalties and closing hours, That is within the jurisdiction of the federal government to decide.

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