EU Parliament Passes Ground-Breaking Honeyball Report on Prostitution’s Impact on Gender Equality

Posted: 12th March, 2014

The European Parliament’s vote in favour of MEP Mary Honeyball’s Report “Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution and its Impact on Gender Equality” is a milestone in the fight for gender equality throughout Europe.

The passing of the Report, which passed by 343 votes to 139, with 105 abstentions, sends a clear message from our elected European officials that the exploitation of women and girls cannot and will not be tolerated any longer- and that states have a responsibility to act to promote and protect gender equality and human dignity.

The Report cited the Nordic Model as a possible method which member states could employ to tackle sexual exploitation. This approach criminalises buyers of sexual services (who are overwhelmingly men), without punishing the women who sell sex- as this is usually a last resort for these women.

This approach has been extremely successful in Sweden since its introduction in 1999, where demand for sexual services has decreased with a correlating decrease in sex trafficking to Sweden. Iceland and Norway have already followed suit, and France and Ireland are considering doing the same.

Academics who supported the report wrote in an open letter that “the prostitution system is a reminder of continuing inequalities between women and men”, and argued that regulation of prostitution undermines other attempts to tackle gender inequality. Rather than being the world’s “oldest profession” prostitution is one of the oldest forms of violence against women, and is abusive and exploitation.

Honeyball 

  Labour MEP for London Mary Honeyball