RE: Swedish bill to criminalize clients

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Subject: RE: Swedish bill to criminalize clients
From: LACZKO Frank (FLACZKO@iom.int)
Date: Wed Mar 17 1999 - 09:23:03 EST


 <<PRESS99>>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: marjan wijers [SMTP:M.Wijers@stud.rgl.ruu.nl]
> Sent: Dienstag, 26. Mai 1998 15:32
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: Swedish bill to criminalize clients
>
>
> Enclosed the letter we (Foundation Against Trafficking in Women, Holland)
> sent to the Swedish parliament concerning the bill to criminalize clients:
>
>
>
> Utrecht, May 12, 1998
>
> Re: Bill to criminalize clients, which will be voted on in the Swedish
> Parliament on May 28th,1998
>
> Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
>
> As an organization adressing the issue of trafficking in women, we want to
> express our concern about the proposed criminalization of clients. It is
> the experience of a great number of NGOs, who for many years have been
> addressing the issue of trafficking in women and have been working in
> direct contact with the women concerned, as well as the experience of the
> women they work with, that repressive legislation on prostitution neither
> deters women from entering prostitution, nor protects the fundamental
> human
> rights of women in prostitution.
> On the contrary: the clandestine and illegal nature of prostitution as
> such, the (by definition) illegal status of women working abroad and the
> resulting marginalisation, stigmatisation and isolation, deny women access
> to the (legal) instruments to defend themselves against abuse and violence
> and allow traffickers, abusive brothel keepers, abusive clients and
> corrupt
> officials to operate with impunity. Criminalization of clients will only
> add to the stigmatization and marginalization of prostitutes and will make
> working conditions less safe. Moreover, it is our experience that in the
> case of trafficked women, clients may play an important role for women as
> one of the few contacts to the outside world and as a way to escape the
> trafficking situation, for instance by calling in the help of an
> organization such as ours. Criminalization of clients will prevent clients
> from seeking support in such cases, as they themselves will be criminally
> liable.
>
> In general, it can be concluded that any form of legislation that results
> in the marginalisation and victimisation of women engaged in prostitution
> makes them more vulnerable to abuse and violence. Therefore, strategies to
> combat violence and abuse should be directed at empowering the women
> concerned and strengthening their rights, rather than on the repression of
> prostitution (or migration): a widely accepted strategy when dealing with
> other areas of violence against women.
>
> These conclusions are supported by extensive research, among which the
> investigation conducted by the Foundation Against Trafficking in Women
> (STV) in collaboration with the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in
> Women at the request of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against
> Women
> ("Trafficking in Women, Forced Labour and Slavery-like Practices in
> Marriage, Domestic Labour and Prostitution", Marjan Wijers and Lin
> Lap-Chew, GAATW/STV, Utrecht, April 1997), and recent research conducted
> by
> Anti-Slavery International in collaboration with the Network of Sex Work
> Projects ("Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the International
> Agenda", Jo Bindman, Anti-Slavery International, with the participation of
> Jo Doezema, Network of Sex Work Projects, Anti-Slavery International,
> London, 1997).
>
> Over the last years anti-trafficking NGOs and sexworkers organizations
> have
> begun to challenge abolitionist and prohibitive approaches to
> prostitution.
> New approaches are being developed, starting from the point of view of the
> women involved. Rather than further criminalize prostitution, they
> advocate
> the decriminalization of sexwork as an essential condition to ensure the
> civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the women
> involved. Decriminalization would allow prostitutes the same protection
> under labour, civil and criminal laws that other citizens and workers are
> entitled to. It would enable prostitutes to organise their own businesses,
> to exercise the same rights as other workers and citizens and to introduce
> the same sort of business standards and labour laws that were developed to
> protect workers and improve working conditions in other labour sectors.
>
> We would like to encourage you to include prostitutes and their views and
> perspectives in the current debate. Up till now, measures have always
> neglected the women workers themselves. Prostitutes have, at best been
> ignored; at worst they have been morally reviled, condemned and socially
> excluded. We feel it a fundamental principle, guiding any action on
> women's
> behalf, that the women concerned have a voice and are included in any
> debate concerning their situation. This means, among other things, that:
> * participation of the women concerned is recognised as essential to the
> development of effective strategies and policies
> * strategies are directed towards empowering women and facilitating their
> speaking up for their own rights.
> Excluding the women concerned from the debate not only reinforces
> paternalistic attitudes and patriarchal structures but also violates the
> right of women to speak up for themselves, to voice their own concerns and
> needs and to formulate their own agendas. Moreover, exclusion risks the
> promotion of measures which are harmful to the women concerned rather than
> in their benefit.
> Application of this principle means that the participation of sex workers
> organisations must considered essential in any debate on prostitution and
> that their views and concerns are given a legitimate place in the debate.
> They are the ones who are most directly involved and whose lives are most
> directly affected by any measures proposed.
>
> On behalf of the Foundation Against Trafficking in Women,
>
> Ms. Marjan Wijers
>
> Foundation Against Trafficking in Women
> Postbox 1455
> 3500 BL Utrecht, The Netherlands
> Phone: + 31 30 2716044
> Fax: + 31 30 2716084
> Email: S.T.V@inter.NL.net
>
> Marjan Wijers
> Foundation Against Trafficking in Women/ Stichting Tegen Vrouwenhandel
> (STV)
> P.O.Box 1455
> 3500 BL Utrecht, The Netherlands
> Tel.: + 31 30 2716044
> Fax: + 31 30 2716084
> Email STV: S.T.V@inter.NL.net
> Email home: M.Wijers@stud.rgl.ruu.nl



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