Sex workers have been assembling in Paris and across France to protest the proposed criminalisation of their clients.
Late last month, sex workers from eight different countries--including countries where clients are criminalised, such as Sweden, Norway and Northern Ireland--gathered in Paris' Human Rights Square alongside NSWP member group STRASS and the
migrant Chinese sex worker group, Steel Roses to commemorate International Sex Worker Day and the 40-year anniversary of the occupation of the Saint-Nizier church in Lyon, as well as to protest the proposed criminalisation bill, which will be
discussed on the 12th of June in a second reading in the Assembly.
After 40 years of activism, the situation has not improved, STRASS' Thierry Schaffauser told Liberation. Punishing clients will exacerbate the situation, pushing sex workers into more precarious situations, he said. Pye Jakobsson told the press
that in Sweden, where clients have been criminalised since 1999, sex workers are even more stigmatised.
Sex workers in France have been fighting attempts to criminalise their clients for years. The issue was first discussed in the National Assembly in December 2011 when a non-binding resolution was adopted supporting the introduction of the Swedish model.
This was later followed by the introduction of a formal Bill by the ruling French Socialist Party.
The Bill proposed to introduce fines for anyone caught paying for or soliciting commercial sexual services and was passed by the Assembly in December 2013. The bill then went to the Senate but was first considered by a Committee, which removed
the clause containing the provisions to criminalise clients in July 2014 . However the proposal in now back on the table with a bill due to be discussed in the Assembly on the 12th of June.
In Paris, the Chinese sex workers are particularly vulnerable because they can not speak the language, are often undocumented and victims of police harassment, which prevents them from reporting if they are attacked by a client, said Ajing,
President of Steel Roses.
French Lawmakers voted in favor of changes to a proposed bill on the country's prostitution laws, approving the criminalisation of people who pay for sex. The same measure was previously removed from the bill in March by the Conservative
With the bill returning to its repressive original version, senators will once again discuss the matter. In the case of an impasse, the lower chamber will have the final word on the proposed law.
According to a Nest Movement report released in May, between 30,000 and 44,000 people work in France's prostitution industry full time, with part time sex work being much more difficult to evaluate. Only 30 percent of those in the industry work
in the streets, while 62 percent engage customers online and 8 percent through hostess bars or massage parlors.
A licensed brothel in the city of Salzburg, Austria, has been offering free drinks and free sex in a protest against what its owner says is unfair taxation.
The Kronen Zeitung tabloid reports that the news has spread like wildfire, with punters lining up to get inside . Salzburg's red light district king Hermann Pascha Müller, who owns the well-known Pascha brothel, told the paper that he no
longer wants to be the tax office's pimp.
Müller said that he's already had to turn away hundreds of disappointed customers as he has had a full house since the summer special went on offer.
The stunt has been great publicity for him and he says that he plans to continue it for four to eight weeks. Drinks are on the house and Müller is paying the sex workers out of his own pocket. He explains
The problem is, the tax office wants more and more, and they are not cracking down on illegal street and apartment prostitution.
He also complained that officials come to check up on the business at Pascha every 14 days.
He said that the summer special would be offset by any profits made in his other establishments, and that Pasha would not be liable for any tax during the special offer. Presumably the tax is levied on turnover or profit.
Irish anti-prostitution campaigners have noted 26 extra profiles listed on escort agency websites in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Louth.
The campaign group, Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI, not a state body), has noted an increase in online escort profiles from 51 to 77.
The group is claiming this to be an in increase of prostitution activity in southern border counties of 51%.
Inevitably now that men will be persecuted for buying sex in the north, there will be a proportion of the sex trade that moves to more tolerant jurisdictions, but counting online profiles is no more than a stab in the dark about quantifying
resultant cross border trade.
Brian Killoran of the ICI claimed:
The initial indications are that those who run prostitution have been feeling the heat of Northern Ireland's new laws even before they came into force and have been switching their operations to the South.
It is important that Gardai monitor the increase in online activity and use our existing laws to ensure that pimps and traffickers are not viewing our border counties and major cities as safe havens after their business model has been wrecked
in the North.
It is also essential that the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD, honour her commitment to publish sex buyer laws here and that we join Northern Ireland, the US, Canada and Sweden in shutting down the organised crime behind
Sex workers in Edinburgh are facing increased health risks following the controversial police crackdown on saunas, a new report has revealed. Fewer women are attending the specialist NHS clinic set up to support them, and reports show that
sexually transmitted infections have increased.
A series of police raids on saunas in 2013, known as Operation Windermere, was seen as signalling the end of Edinburgh's traditional pragmatic approach to prostitution.
Now sex workers are also giving up on condoms, with saunas refusing to stock them because police can use possession of them as evidence of selling sex.
The report for the city council's health and social care committee, which draws together evidence from various agencies involved with sex workers, also said many women had moved away from saunas and now operated from other venues, like flats or
lap-dancing bars. The report also said:
There is no evidence that the number of women selling sex in Lothian has reduced, but they are not attending for support from NHS Lothian in the same volumes as in previous years.
Anecdotally, we hear of women now selling sex in other venues, such as lap-dancing bars, and more women are informing us that they are working from flats and advertising on the internet.
Chlamydia had increased by two per cent and cases of hepatitis B and C were also up. The report said:
The problem of unprotected intercourse may have been precipitated by fear of being found by the police to be in possession of condoms, which can be used as evidence to indicate the selling of sex.
NHS Lothian supplies condoms to saunas, but since Operation Windermere, many managers of these premises are reluctant to have condoms stored there.
Compounding this risk is the problem that these venues are quieter, and some reports have indicated that women are consequently competing for work and will practice unprotected intercourse in order to generate a larger income.
These findings come as no surprise to Scot-Pep who have long campaigned against aggressive enforcement action taken by Police Scotland against sex workers. Stewart Cunningham, Co-chair of SCOT-PEP said:
Since the police raided saunas in Edinburgh, the situation for sex workers has worsened dramatically.
Many have disclosed they feel increasingly threatened by law enforcement and the risk of arrest. Welfare agencies continue to work in co-operation with the police, which makes sex workers distrustful of them and reluctant to engage. This is
reminiscent of the experiences of Glasgow-based sex workers who have been working in a context that has prioritised zero-tolerance over a harm reduction approach for a number of years.
Traditionally, sex workers in Edinburgh felt better protected by the police than those working in Glasgow but with the enactment of Operation Windermere, where police raided sex worker premises and in some instances strip-searched women, this
trust that they could rely on the police for protection has gone.
One woman, who spoke to SCOT-PEP in the aftermath of the police raids, described the way she had been treated by officers: I felt very bad, so violated. I've never been so humiliated in my life.
Police Scotland also routinely use condoms as evidence in prosecuting sex workers, as the council has noted. This flies in the face of all international guidance and must stop.
The debate on legalizing prostitution has heated up in South Korea as the Constitutional Court began reviewing the law that criminalizes the sex trade.
The antiprostitution law was enacted in 2004. The law stipulates that both purchasing and selling of sex carry a penalty of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 3 million won. It gives exemption to people forced into prostitution, leaving
only voluntary sex workers -- many of whom oppose the law -- subject to the punishment.
A woman accused of selling sex for 130,000 won filed for a constitutional review of the law in 2012. The woman argued that punishing voluntary prostitution, especially when the sex worker has no other means of income, was a violation of
fundamental human rights. Her request for a review was granted by the Seoul Northern District Court and eventually by the Constitutional Court.
Those who are against the antiprostitution law claim there is little evidence that punishing sex workers is effective in curbing the sex trade. According to government data, the number of female sex workers increased by 3.8% from 2010 to 2013, in
spite of the law. According to a study last year by the Gender Equality Ministry, almost 80% of female sex workers were in their 20s and 30s as of 2013.
PROUD, a sex workers association is organising a large demonstration of sex workers to protest against the continuing closure of window brothels in Amsterdam on Thursday April 9th.
Amsterdam city council will be debating the controversial project 1012 that evening. PROUD, who represents sex workers in the Netherlands, will deliver a list of grievances and demands to the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan.
PROUD spokesman Lyle Muns said:
Project 1012 is an urban regeneration project that wholly ignores the presence of sex workers in the city center. Instead of 'saving' sex workers, it is necessary to listen to them. And what they unanimously say is: Hands off our work spaces!
Project 1012 claims to fight abuses in the sex industry by closing windows. But displaced sex workers do not stop working. It was naive of the responsible Social Democratic party in the city council to think that this would ever work. Sex
workers didn't stay home but moved to other cities or work from the Internet. PROUD explains how closing windows leads to a worsening of the work conditions of sex workers. Window brothels are one of the safest work places in prostitution. Each
window has an alarm in case of danger. The police are always nearby. Health and service organisations frequently monitor the windows. These back up services are simply not available at other sites. By closing windows sex workers are forced to
work in more dangerous environments
PROUD demands the immediate termination of Project 1012. It also demands the reversal of the window closures. For its primary target group Project 1012 has been an utter failure. Sex workers are victims of a costly, misconceived project that is
ruining Amsterdam's unique historical center. It is high time that stubborn officials begin to respect the rights of sex workers.
The demonstration will leave Thursday April 9 at 18.00 hours from the Oudekerksplein. Sex workers and everyone who supports them are all welcome! At 19.00 hours a statement will be submitted to the mayor at the Stopera. To respect their anonymity
some sex workers will wear masks. The media are invited to interview sex workers anonymously.
With hundreds of sex workers marching through the streets of Amsterdam today, the sex workers made a clear statement: Stop the closure of prostitution windows!
Since 2008 the city has closed down 117 prostitution windows, and they have another 94 windows scheduled for closure. But in recent years criticism has been rising regarding the project, because the project was being sold as a project to fight
forced prostitution , claiming they would reduce human trafficking by closing down windows. In reality however about 300 sex workers have already lost their workplace, and another 250 girls are going to loose their workplace, and nobody knows
where those girls end up. I'm sure that helps possible victims a lot!
With a bigger turn up than expected, the 200 masks we provided for the girls for the demonstration weren't enough for all the sex workers that showed up. An estimated 230 sex workers turned up for the demonstration, and another large group of
supporters joined us in our march to city hall, to hand over the petition signed by sex workers and supporters to the mayor to stop closing down prostitution windows in Amsterdam.
In total 414 sex workers from the Red Light District and some sex workers from the Singel area in Amsterdam signed the petition. So if ever anyone still claims that I would be just one woman , here's the proof of all the women I represent.
A little bit more than the 40 girls from Jojanneke I'd say. And with only 354 windows in those two areas together, the signatures of 414 sex workers prove that a huge majority of the sex workers don't agree with the plans to close down the
windows. Furthermore it also proves that behind each window is at least one woman that doesn't agree with it. And an additional 524 supporters signed our online petition, bringing the total amount of people that signed the petition to 938 people
that don't agree with closing down the windows.
With a much bigger group than expected, also the media turned out to be much more than we expected. Media from all over the world came to Amsterdam to report about this unique protest in one of the world's most famous prostitution areas.
Sex workers in Catalonia have created Spain's first formal lobby group for the profession, with the aim of encouraging candidates in the upcoming municipal and regional elections to back them in their push to regulate the sector. Montse Neira,
one of the founding members of the Assembly of Sex Work Pro-rights Activists of Catalonia explained:
We are the most stigmatised and criminalised group of women in society. From now on, nobody else is going to speak for us.
The lobby group includes sex workers as well as others who work closely with them, such as lawyers and advocates. Another member, Paula Vip said:
The violence we face doesn't come from our clients, but from the institutions that govern based on the interest of a moral minority. From now on, we prostitutes will be organised, convinced, ready to fight and ready for war.
The decision to form a lobby group comes after a pioneering ruling in February by a Spanish judge. In a judgment hailed by many sex workers as a crucial first step towards recognising the rights of those in the profession, the judge said that
three women in a Barcelona brothel had a right to healthcare and benefits contributions from their employer.
France's upper house of parliament has rejected a draft law penalising people paying for sex via prostitution.
In December 2013, the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved legislation making clients of prostitutes liable for a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,620) for a first offence and double that thereafter.
But by a large majority, the opposition-dominated Senate reversed the National Assembly's proposal, scrapping the fines for prostitutes' clients and also dropping plans to repeal a law that made soliciting an offence in 2003.
The latest legislation had been fiercely opposed by sex workers, who said it would drive prostitution further underground and make them vulnerable to abuse.
Hundreds of prostitutes took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest against the proposed law.
Prostitution is legal in France and there are an estimated 30,000 sex workers in the country, more than 80% of whom come from abroad. But since 2003 offering sex for sale has been against the law.
The National Assembly has the last word on the issue and is likely to revert to the original plan of penalising clients.
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