Legal Prostitution in Europe: The Shady Facade of Human Trafficking

Originally posted by AÏSSATA MAÏGA and SOL TORRES for Open Security on September 17, 2014—
Criminalising the buying, rather than the offering, of sexual services is one of the ways to fight the transnational criminal networks behind the trafficking of women.

In the last decade forced prostitution and traffic in human beings for sexual exploitation in Europe has dramatically increased but it remains largely overlooked. The EU has failed to stem the problem, and conflicting legislation has been counter-productive. There is an urgent need to rethink how to tackle the issue collectively, with greater focus on criminalising the buying of sex.

Around the world, an estimated 4.5 million women are enslaved in sexual exploitation managed by transnational organised-crime networks. In Europe, much evidence indicates that a legalised sex industry plus thriving demand make for an open door to forced prostitution and human trafficking.

The Netherlands in 2000 and Germany in 2002 opted for the full decriminalisation of prostitution. The goal was to regulate the sex industry better and provide sex workers with rights and social benefits. Yet this has been associated with a spike in human-rights abuses and an increase in human trafficking.

A working paper from the German government on forced prostitution describes the country as a trafficker’s paradise where 90% of the 400,000 prostitute women are under constraint, with 1.2m men from all over Europe visiting brothels daily. In 2008, the Dutch national police reported very high levels of coercion—up to 90%. Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam, admittedthat providing a safe space for sex work not connected to organised crime was impossible.”

For the rest of the original article, please click here.

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