Women's groups urge EU ban on prostitution
(BRUSSELS) - Around 200 women's groups on Tuesday urged the European Union to make paying for sex a crime on the grounds that prostitution violated women's rights.
"Prostitution is a form of violence, an obstacle to equality, a violation of human dignity, and of human rights," the European Women's Lobby (EWL), the largest umbrella group of women's rights groups in the 27-nation bloc, said at a conference in the European parliament.
The EWL called on the bloc to seek inspiration from Sweden, which outlawed paying for sex more than a decade ago though prostitution remains legal.
The group said that the number of people exploited in street prostitution had halved since 1999, while it tripled in Denmark and Norway for the same period.
EU states should ban "repressive measures" against people who prostitute themselves but clamp down on "all forms of procuring" and agree "the prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act."
Between 80 and 95 percent of people in prostitution "have suffered some form of violence" before entering the system of prostitution (rape, incest, pedophilia).
The group also said that women constituted 85 percent of the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and cited UN data saying that trafficking in human beings was the second biggest source of illicit profits for criminals after drugs.