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For women’s organisations, a historic step forward towards gender equality

For women’s organisations, a historic step forward towards gender equality with the vote of the European Parliament on the Honeyball resolution

[Brussels, 26 February 2014] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) warmly welcomes the vote of the European Parliament today which recognises that prostitution violates human dignity and human rights, and is an obstacle to equality between women and men. The resolution has been adopted with a strong majority (343 for, 139 against, 105 abstentions).

Together with the 200 NGOs from all over Europe, which have signed the Brussels’ Call ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, the EWL sees this European development as a sign that mentalities are evolving towards shared values of equality and dignity.

“We congratulate the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for their courageous stance against the system of prostitution which exploits the most vulnerable, perpetuates male domination and fuels trafficking in women”, says Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

The resolution acknowledges the violence inherent to the system of prostitution, saying that prostitution is a breach of women’s fundamental rights and contradictory to the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights. “By rejecting the alternative resolution which supports the idea of a so-called ‘voluntary’ prostitution, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed the view that the phenomena of prostitution and trafficking in women cannot be separated”, says Pierrette Pape, Coordinator of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’ and currently Acting Coordinator of the EWL.

The resolution points out to the Nordic model as a successful approach to deter trafficking, support and assist women in prostitution, and change mentalities in terms of gender equality. The Nordic model, implemented in Sweden, Norway and Iceland, is based on the fundamental principles of equality between women and men, human dignity, solidarity and justice. The report’s rapporteur, Ms Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK) said: “Rather than blanket legalisation – which has been a disaster in Holland and Germany – we need a more nuanced approach to prostitution, which punishes men who treat women’s bodies as a commodity, without criminalising those who are driven into the sex industry."

“The resolution is a very strong step forward towards the realisation of gender equality in Europe and beyond, and is consistent with the vote of Ms Parvanova’s resolution asking for EU legislation to end all forms of violence against women. The European Parliament is sending the clear message that 21st century societies are to be free from systems of prostitution and from violence against women. This is a unique moment for all the women still in prostitution and for all the survivors who have supported this move, and we want to pay tribute to their courage and strength”, says Viviane Teitelbaum.

To find out more about the Brussels’ Call and EWL campaign on prostitution:

- EWL publication ’18 myths on prostitution’, with a comparison of 10 years of Dutch and Swedish policies on prostitution

- EWL video clip on the Brussels’ Call (3’)

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby; Tel: +32 2210 04 40; buijink@womenlobby.org, and see www.womenlobby.org.

Note to editors:

The European Women's Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women's associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women's rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU Member States and three of the candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations.

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