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[267] ´Kennisparel´ 6 oktober 2021: The differing EU Member States’ regulations on prostitution and their cross-border implications on women’s rights

Beste collega´s van binnen en buiten het ministerie van Justitie & Veiligheid,

Inleiding en context Allemaal een fijne dag toegewenst op deze regenachtige woensdagochtend 6 oktober 2021. Vandaag een ´kennisparel´ over wat sommigen wel het oudste beroep ter wereld noemen ”sekswerkers / prostitutie´. Het betreft een vergelijkende Europese studie naar de wet- en regelgeving rond prostitutie in de verschillende lidstaten van de Europese Unie. Het beleid rond prostitutie is een zeer relevante en gevoelige kwestie in de lidstaten van de Europese Unie. Beslissen welk model van prostitutie toe te passen onder de mogelijke (d.w.z. legaliseren en reguleren, criminaliseren of de markt legaal maar ongereguleerd laten) is een politieke beslissing die consequenties met zich meebrengt en gebaseerd is op verschillende perspectieven en keuzes (ethisch, moreel en religieus). Op het niveau van de EU-lidstaten wordt prostitutie aan het ene uiterste beschouwd als een beroep (sekswerk) en is daarom legaal en gereguleerd, terwijl het aan het andere uiterste gecriminaliseerd is. Het landschap In Europa ziet er als volgt uit:

Maar nu op naar de bijgesloten ´kennisparel´ van vandaag, wat leert die ons op basis van de beschikbare kennis over prostitutie binnen de Europese Unie?

Bron

Di Nicola, Andrea (September 2021). The differing EU Member States’ regulations on prostitution and their cross-border implications on women’s rights. Brussels: European Parliament, Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, 49 pp.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/695394/IPOL_STU(2021)695394_EN.pdf

Samenvatting

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee – after assessing the state-of-the-art of prostitution regulations in EU MSs and the current situation of sex trafficking and related data in the EU – identifies and evaluates cross-border problems/risks related to differing national EU MSs’ regulations and suggests future EU legislation to reduce them, thus preventing women from being trafficked while also protecting fundamental rights and gender equality.

The European Parliament in its Resolution of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality considers prostitution and forced prostitution as “forms of slavery incompatible with human dignity and fundamental human rights” and a “both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality”. The EP, therefore, chose to define prostitution as a human rights’ violation and a gender inequality issue tout court, without distinguishing between prostitution and forced prostitution / trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation. Prostitution is always seen as “a violation of women’s rights – a form of sexual slavery –, which results in and maintains gender inequality for women”. As a consequence, the Resolution advocated the “Nordic Model”, i.e. a prostitution policy which criminalises the clients, the demand. The Resolution did not pass with unanimity but with simple majority. The perspective it endorsed was not agreed upon by a relevant minority of the EU Parliament which considered the regulation of prostitution a way to protect the rights of those who work in the sex market and saw prostitution itself a way to foster, as explained in the EU Parliament Resolution, “gender equality by promoting a woman’s right to control what she wants to do with her body”.

So, if there is a strong consensus within the EU on how to treat forced prostitution and human trafficking for sexual exploitation, the same does not happen with prostitution as such. The assertion that prostitution as such is a violation of human rights and an issue of gender inequality is not within the realm of science, but rather of politics. What scientific research can do, in its constant attempt to be objective and non-judgmental, is to collect and analyse existing qualitative and quantitative information on the phenomenon (in order to understand the market of prostitution, its actors and its internal dynamics) and to help evaluate the effects and impact of different prostitution policies in terms of benefits and costs, so ast o support and orient decision-making towards prostitution model/ that maximise the former while minimising the latter. Among the costs of prostitution policies are those related to criminal activities, very often transnational in nature, carried out by organised crime groups dealing with the trafficking in persons (especially women and children) for the purpose of sexual exploitation. These costs include very serious violations of human rights both of the persons who are victims of this trade and of EU citizens in general, that are exposed to the severe threats posed by transnational organised crimes. These costs, as we are going to argument in this Study, can also depend on legislative asymmetries in a common market like that of the European Union.

Starting from this perspective, the objectives of this Study are to:

  • assess the state-of-the-art of prostitution regulations in EU Member States, and the impact of the 2014 EU Parliament Resolution on them(chapter3)
  • assess the current situation of sex trafficking and the existing data on this phenomenon in the EU, also by providing actual estimates of victims and of turnover from their exploited prostitution activities (chapter 4);
  • identify and evaluate cross-border problems and risks related to the differing national legislation of the EU Member States, with special attention to the trafficking of women and girls and to related cross-border organised crime rings(chapter 5);
  • suggest how the EU, in the name of its fundamental rights and shared values defined in Article 2 of the TFEU, should legislate in the area – protecting its fundamental rights in general and gender equality in particular – in order to protect women and girls from being trafficked for purposes of prostitution and define the legal framework applicable on the EU level which could serve as the basis for legislating in the area of prostitution (chapter 6). The methodology employed includes desk research, meta-analysis of existing research and additional quantitative research by the author.

Afsluitend

Prostitutiebeleid kan verschillende materiële en immateriële kosten met zich meebrengen. Onder deze kosten zijn kosten die verband houden met criminele activiteiten van (transnationale) georganiseerde misdaadgroepen die zich bezighouden met mensenhandel (THB), vaak vrouwen en meisjes, voor seksuele uitbuiting. Deze kosten omvatten schendingen van menselijke rechten (HR) van slachtoffers en EU-burgers, die worden blootgesteld aan de bedreigingen door grensoverschrijdende georganiseerde misdaad (TOC), en kan afhangen van asymmetrie in de wetgeving in een gemeenschappelijke markt zoals die van de EU. Bijgesloten vergelijkende studie biedt aanknopingspunten welke beleidsvormen en keuzen het meest effectief kunnen zijn om deze schade onder slachtoffers te voorkomen. Uiteraard is hier de specifieke context en cultuur van lidtstaten van belang bij het maken van die beleidskeuze. Opnieuw ´food for thought´. Maak er gebruik van!

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