Sex Work and Human Rights

Say NO to the criminalisation of clients of sex workers

The following is a statement in support of the petition by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) ahead of a vote at the European Parliament at the end of this month. Please sign and share it widely.

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I am well aware that the matter you have been asked to vote upon is for many a complicated or uncomfortable one. However, regardless of your moral or religious beliefs, I would like to ask you to look at the abundance of evidence that counters the claims made by your colleague Mary Honeyball and vote against the criminalisation of clients of sex workers.

There is sufficient evidence that the Swedish Model to criminalise the purchase of sexual services has not only failed to curb human trafficking, it has also created an environment that increases the stigma attached to sex work and puts sex workers at greater risk of violence, at times with disastrous consequences, including murder. For those unfamiliar with the subject, I have written a little introduction which includes references to relevant studies. [1] In addition, you may look at studies and reports by the UN [2], the WHO [3], the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women [4], and others [5], incl. the Swedish Police [6], which is exactly what Mary Honeyball did obviously not do. Instead, she chose sources to back up her arguments drawn from a thoroughly discredited researcher (Melissa Farley, see Bedford v. Canada, 353-356) [7], an equally thoroughly debunked article by German news magazine Der Spiegel [8] and other questionable sources.

Apart from being firmly opposed to Ms Honeyball’s views, I find it disgraceful that a member of your assembly displays such poor work ethics that could be described as ill-informed at best, though deceptive might be the more appropriate term here. It is disappointing that time, efforts and taxes are being spent to form a proposal that fails to address problems that do exist in the sex industry and instead aims to add to them.

Please let reason prevail, listen to sex workers, and vote against the criminalisation of their clients.

Sincerely,
Matthias Lehmann
PhD Candidate in Law, Queens University Belfast

[1] Lehmann “Criminalising the payment for sexual services – An introduction for the uninitiated” http://wp.me/p294H2-NM
[2] UNDP “Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific” http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/hivaids/English/HIV-2012-SexWorkAndLaw.pdf
[3] WHO “Violence against sex workers and HIV prevention” http://www.who.int/gender/documents/sexworkers.pdf
[4] GAATW “Collateral Damage – The Impact of Anti-Trafficking Measures on Human Rights around the World” http://www.gaatw.org/Collateral%20Damage_Final/singlefile_CollateralDamagefinal.pdf
[5] Dodillet, Östergren “The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects“ http://gup.ub.gu.se/records/fulltext/140671.pdf
[6] Swedish National Police board “Trafficking in human beings for sexual and other purposes” https://www.polisen.se/Global/www%20och%20Intrapolis/Informationsmaterial/01%20Polisen%20nationellt/Engelskt%20informationsmaterial/Trafficking_1998_/Trafficking_report_13_20130530.pdf
[7] See Judge Himel’s comments in Bedford v. Canada [353-356] www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2010/2010onsc4264/2010onsc4264.html
[8] Dolinsek, Lehmann “Does legal prostitution really increase human trafficking in Germany?” http://wp.me/p1NLSO-eb

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