A vote at the European Parliament that supports the ‘Nordic Model’ of prostitution has been voted through with a large majority, the International Business Times reports.
At the vote, 343 members voted in favour of the report, 139 against and 105 people abstained. Commenting on the outcome, Honeyball said: “Today’s outcome represents a vital signal from MEPs that we cannot continue to tolerate the exploitation of women. Rather than blanket legalization, parliament has backed the more nuanced approach already practised in Sweden as a means of tackling prostitution. This punishes men who treat women’s bodies as a commodity, without criminalising women who are driven into sex work.
“The idea that prostitution is the ‘oldest profession’ leads some to think we should accept it as a fact of life – that all we can do is regulate it a little better. This course of action leads to an increase in prostitution levels, normalising the purchase of sex and ingraining the inequalities which sustain the sex industry.
“The outcome of today’s vote symbolises the changing attitudes of EU countries on this issue, and the desire of member states to learn from one another. I hope today’s result will encourage member states including the UK to be radical and ambitious enough to go Swedish.”
The vote went to the European Parliament after being put through by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, with 14 members voting in favour, two against and six abstaining.
The ‘Nordic’ model of prostitution punishes the client rather than the prostitute. It has been adopted in several Scandinavian countries, including Sweden and Denmark. In France, the model was voted through parliament after being put forward by Women’s Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
Under the French bill, anyone found paying for sex will be fined €1,500 (£1,250) for a first offence and €3,000 for a second offence.
While many welcome the model, saying it reduces risk to woman, prevents trafficking and creates gender equality, others – including many prostitutes – say it is dangerous and ineffective.