On an ordinary winter day in 2014, Mary Honeyball led her colleagues in the European Parliament to pass a groundbreaking
Most people are voiceless because no one is letting them talk or listening to them when they do. There is a lot to be said for quitting being the voice of the voiceless and letting people speak for themselves. But not by those seeking to abolish the sex trade. Words are put into people's mouths when they can be, and when they can't, those people are silenced and dismissed.
Activist Spotlight: Pye Jakobsson, Co-Founder of Rose Alliance, Sweden, and President of The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)
Since the mid-1990s, Pye Jakobsson from Stockholm, Sweden, has been a sex workers' rights activist and from the 1980s, she
Whether we like it or not, criminalising the buying and selling of sex is an attempt to legislate morality and exercise control over private sexual behaviour. Sex workers are human beings and selling sex is their business. Sex workers must be entitled to the same labour rights as other workers and the same human rights as other people.
My view on this is clear. I simply do not believe that any more than an eccentric few go into prostitution through genuine preference. Prostitutes tend to enter the job young and to come from deprived backgrounds. Many have histories of abuse and addiction.
A Victory for Mary Honeyball But a Defeat for Human Rights, Evidence-Based Policy and Dignified Political Debate
Yesterday the European Parliament backed measures which have been rejected as a violation of basic human rights by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and UNAIDS. Mary Honeyball MEP's report advocating the criminalisation of the purchase of sex were widely criticised... Despite the overwhelming evidence Ms. Honeyball charged ahead on a moral crusade to eradicate sex work at whatever cost.
I recognise that a great number of those working as prostitutes are doing so as a result of having being trafficked. The trafficking of human beings is akin to slavery, it is a criminal offence and every one of us has a moral duty to fight against it. But the problem with the proposals which will be put before the European Parliament this week is that they don't acknowledge that some women - and men - choose to sell sex for a living.
Ahrendts' departure was timely, coming on the same day as European Parliament committees voted in favour of draft legislation requiring 40% representation for women among non-executive board members... London, Europe's main financial centre and home to some of the world's largest companies, should be leading the way on this issue.
Blanket criminalisation clearly isn't working. It doesn't address the core problem, and sometimes perpetuates it; prostitutes are convicted, criminalised, have less of a route out than before, and thus return to the sex industry. A subterranean economy is created, which is demeaning at best and dangerous at worst. So, if the current system is failing then where do we go from here? This is the question I've tried to answer through my work at the EU. There are two alternatives for the UK. The first is the well-publicised Dutch model, which legalises both being a sex worker and using one.