BETA


2013/2103(INI) Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead FEMM HONEYBALL Mary (icon: S&D S&D) ZÁBORSKÁ Anna (icon: PPE PPE), OVIIR Siiri (icon: ALDE ALDE), LUNACEK Ulrike (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), YANNAKOUDAKIS Marina (icon: ECR ECR)
Committee Opinion DEVE CREȚU Corina (icon: S&D S&D)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 54

Events

2014/07/22
   EC - Commission response to text adopted in plenary
Documents
2014/02/26
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2014/02/26
   EP - Decision by Parliament
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 343 votes to 139, with 105 abstentions, a resolution on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality.

Prostitution and forced prostitution are gendered phenomena with a global dimension, involving around 40-42 million people worldwide, with the vast majority of prostituted persons being women and under-age females.

EU data shows that the current policy to combat trafficking is not effective and that there is a problem to identify and prosecute traffickers so that the investigation of sex-trafficking cases and the prosecution and conviction of human traffickers need to be strengthened .

In an amendment adopted in plenary, the Parliament recognises that prostitution, forced prostitution and sexual exploitation are highly gendered issues and violations of human dignity, contrary to human rights principles, including gender equality, and therefore, contrary to the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the goal and the principle of gender equality.

Parliament underlines that the health rights of all women must be respected, including their right to their bodies and sexuality and to be free of coercion, discrimination and violence. It stresses in particular that there are several links between prostitution and trafficking, and recognises that prostitution – both globally and across Europe – feeds the trafficking of vulnerable women and under-age females, a large percentage of whom are between 13-25 years old.

Parliament also indicates that, as shown by data from the Commission, a majority of victims (62 %) are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with women and under-age females accounting for 96 % of identified and presumed victims, with the percentage of victims from non-EU countries showing an increase in the past few years.

The lack of reliable, accurate and comparable data among countries, owing mainly to the illegal and often invisible nature of prostitution and trafficking, keeps the prostitution market opaque and hinders political decision-making.

Prostitution and public health : Parliament stresses that prostitution is also a health issue, as it has detrimental health impacts on persons in prostitution, who are more likely to suffer from sexual, physical and mental health traumas, drug and alcohol addiction, and loss of self-respect, as well as a higher mortality rate, than the general population; adds and stresses that many of the sex buyers ask for unprotected commercial sex, which increases the risk of detrimental health impacts, both for persons in prostitution and for the buyers

The plenary also recognises that prostitution and forced prostitution can have an impact on violence against women in general, as research on sex buyers shows that men who buy sex have a degrading image of women. Parliament therefore suggests to the competent national authorities that the ban on the purchase of sexual services should be accompanied by a campaign to raise awareness among men.

At the same time, Member States are invited to:

introduce, in accordance with national law, regular, confidential counselling and health checks for prostitutes, on premises other than those where prostitution takes place; exchange best practices on ways to reduce the dangers associated with street prostitution; combat child prostitution (involving persons under the age of 18) as energetically as possible, as it is the most serious form of forced prostitution; conduct special, age-specific educational awareness-raising and preventive campaigns in schools and colleges; give the police and the authorities responsible for premises where prostitution takes place the right to enter such premises and to carry out checks at random; transpose Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA, into national law as rapidly as possible, particularly with a view to protecting victims; encourage police authorities to cooperate with the victims and encourage them to testify; encourage the existence of specialised services within the police and to employ police women and improve judicial cooperation between Member States in this field; tackle the underlying social problems that force men, women and children into prostitution (such as poverty, social exclusion); evaluate both the positive and negative effects of criminalising the purchase of sexual services on reducing prostitution and trafficking; put in place strategies for demand reduction; take measures to discourage the practice of sexual tourism inside as well as outside the EU.

Stop regarding prostitutes as criminals : Parliament calls on the Member States to refrain from criminalising and penalising prostituted persons, and to develop programmes to assist prostituted persons/sex workers to leave the profession should they wish to do so. It therefore calls on all Member States to repeal repressive legislation against prostituted persons and warns that sexual liberty must not be interpreted as a license to disregard women.

Nordic model : the resolution considers that the most effective way of combating the trafficking of women and under-age females for sexual exploitation and improving gender equality is the model implemented in Sweden, Iceland and Norway (the so-called Nordic model). This model is currently under consideration in several European countries, where the purchase of sexual services constitutes the criminal act, not the services of the prostituted persons.

As prostitution is a cross-border problem, the Member States should assume responsibility for combating the buying of sex outside their own territory.

Parliament emphasises that some data confirm the Nordic model’s deterrent effect on trafficking into Sweden, where prostitution and sex trafficking have not increased, and that this model is increasingly supported by the population, especially by young people.

Parliament considers that looking upon prostitution as legal ‘sex work’, decriminalising the sex industry in general and making procuring legal is not a solution to keeping vulnerable women and under-age females safe from violence and exploitation, but has the opposite effect and puts them in danger of a higher level of violence, whilst encouraging the growth of the market in prostitution, thus increasing the numbers of women and girls persecuted.

Prostitution and the economic crisis : Parliament draws the attention of the national authorities to the impact of the economic downturn on the growing number of women and under-age females, including migrant women, forced to enter prostitution. It points out that economic problems and poverty are major causes of prostitution among young women and under-age females, and therefore recommends:

gender-specific prevention strategies; national and Europe-wide campaigns specially targeted at socially excluded communities and those in situations of increased vulnerability; measures to reduce poverty and to raise awareness among both the purchasers and suppliers of sex, especially among migrants.

Lastly, the report urged the Commission: i) to evaluate the impact that the European legal framework designed to eliminate trafficking for sexual exploitation has had to date; ii) to mobilise the necessary means and tools to fight trafficking and sexual exploitation and to reduce prostitution; iii) to undertake further research on patterns of prostitution, on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and on the increased level of sex tourism in the EU, and iv) to promote the exchange of best practices among the Member States.

The Commission should continue funding projects and programmes to fight trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation. The EEAS should also take measures to stop the practice of prostitution in areas of conflict where EU military forces are present.

It should be noted that a proposed replacement resolution presented by the ECR ad Alde groups as well as several members of the Greens/EFA Group (Ulrike LUNACEK (AT), Marije CORNELISSEN (NL), Raül ROMEVA i RUEDA (ES) and Iñaki IRAZABALBEITIA FERNÁNDEZ (ES)) was rejected in plenary.

Documents
2014/02/26
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2014/02/24
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2014/02/04
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary
Details

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality adopted the own-initiative report by Mary HONEYBALL (S&D, UK) on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality.

Prostitution and forced prostitution are intrinsically linked to gender inequality in society and have an impact on the status of women and men in society and the perception of their mutual relations and sexuality.

EU data show that the current policy to combat trafficking is not effective and that there is a problem to identify and prosecute traffickers so that the investigation of sex-trafficking cases and the prosecution and conviction of human traffickers need to be strengthened.

The report recognised that prostitution and sexual exploitation are highly gendered issues and violations of human dignity. It stated that there are several links between prostitution and trafficking, and recognises that prostitution – both globally and across Europe – feeds the trafficking of vulnerable women and under-age females, a large percentage of whom are between 13-25 years old. According to data, a majority of victims (62 %) are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with women and under-age females accounting for 96 % of identified and presumed victims, with the percentage of victims from non-EU countries showing an increase in the past few years. The lack of reliable, accurate and comparable data among countries, owing mainly to the illegal and often invisible nature of prostitution and trafficking, keeps the prostitution market opaque and hinders political decision-making.

In this context, Member States are called upon to:

introduce, in accordance with national law, regular, confidential counselling and health checks for prostitutes, on premises other than those where prostitution takes place; exchange best practices on ways to reduce the dangers associated with street prostitution; combat child prostitution (involving persons under the age of 18) as energetically as possible, as it is the most serious form of forced prostitution; conduct special, age-specific educational awareness-raising and preventive campaigns in schools and colleges; repeal repressive legislation against prostituted persons; give the police and the authorities responsible for premises where prostitution takes place the right to enter such premises and to carry out checks at random; transpose Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA, into national law as rapidly as possible, particularly with a view to protecting victims; encourage police authorities to cooperate with the victims and encourage them to testify, to encourage the existence of specialised services within the police and to employ police women and improve judicial cooperation between Member States in this field; tackle the underlying social problems that force men, women and children into prostitution (such as poverty, social exclusion); evaluate both the positive and negative effects of criminalising the purchase of sexual services on reducing prostitution and trafficking. take measures to discourage the practice of sexual tourism inside as well as outside the EU.

Nordic model : the report considered that the most effective way of combating the trafficking of women and under-age females for sexual exploitation and improving gender equality is the model implemented in Sweden, Iceland and Norway (the so-called Nordic model). This model is currently under consideration in several European countries, where the purchase of sexual services constitutes the criminal act, not the services of the prostituted persons.

Stressing that as prostitution is a cross-border problem, Member States should assume responsibility for combating the buying of sex outside their own territory by introducing measures similar to those adopted in Norway, where a citizen can be prosecuted for purchasing sex abroad. Members stated that looking upon prostitution as legal ‘sex work’, decriminalising the sex industry in general and making procuring legal is not a solution to keeping vulnerable women and under-age females safe from violence and exploitation, but has the opposite effect and puts them in danger of a higher level of violence.

Lastly, the report urged the Commission to evaluate the impact that the European legal framework designed to eliminate trafficking for sexual exploitation has had to date, to undertake further research on patterns of prostitution, on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and on the increased level of sex tourism in the EU, with particular reference to minors, and to promote the exchange of best practices among the Member States. The Commission should funding projects and programmes to fight trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation. The EEAS should also take measures to stop the practice of prostitution in areas of conflict where EU military forces are present.

Documents
2014/01/23
   EP - Vote in committee
2014/01/16
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2014/01/09
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/12/17
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/12/03
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2013/09/26
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2013/09/04
   EP - CREȚU Corina (S&D) appointed as rapporteur in DEVE
2013/06/10
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament
2013/04/18
   EP - HONEYBALL Mary (S&D) appointed as rapporteur in FEMM

Documents

Votes

A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - Am 1 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: -: 334, +: 238, 0: 36
GB NL AT BE PL MT CZ DK EE LT LU SI CY DE FI PT LV HR SK EL RO IT BG IE HU SE FR ES
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52
23
15
18
38
6
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7
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A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - Am 2 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: +: 429, -: 160, 0: 24
IT PL ES FR HU RO GB BG HR CZ SK EL PT IE LT DE MT SI LU EE DK CY LV BE FI SE NL AT
Total
50
40
44
59
19
24
52
15
11
12
12
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16
12
9
87
6
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A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - Am 3 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: +: 392, -: 182, 0: 19
IT ES PL RO HU FR PT IE SK HR EL BG MT FI LT AT CZ LV LU SI EE BE CY DE DK NL GB SE
Total
50
40
38
23
18
62
16
12
12
11
17
15
6
11
7
15
11
8
5
7
4
19
5
85
7
23
47
18
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A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - § 8/1 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: +: 582, 0: 18, -: 4
DE FR IT ES PL GB NL RO BE SE HU EL PT BG AT IE FI SK HR LT DK CZ LV SI LU MT CY EE
Total
85
59
50
44
41
44
24
24
19
19
19
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18
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15
11
12
11
11
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9
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A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - § 8/2 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: +: 408, -: 170, 0: 25
DE PL FR GB NL HU IT AT BE RO PT LV LU SK CZ LT SI EE ES HR BG FI IE DK CY MT EL SE
Total
86
40
61
47
24
19
50
14
18
23
17
8
6
10
9
10
7
5
43
11
15
11
12
9
5
6
17
19
icon: PPE PPE
218

Belgium PPE

3

Luxembourg PPE

3

Czechia PPE

1

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Cyprus PPE

1

Malta PPE

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
73
4

Austria ALDE

1

Latvia ALDE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Slovakia ALDE

For (1)

1

Lithuania ALDE

2

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

Against (1)

2

Estonia ALDE

Abstain (1)

2

Spain ALDE

2
4

Finland ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

4

Denmark ALDE

2

Greece ALDE

1
icon: ECR ECR
37

Netherlands ECR

For (1)

1

Hungary ECR

For (1)

1

Italy ECR

Abstain (1)

2

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1

Lithuania ECR

1

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Denmark ECR

For (1)

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
52

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

5

Netherlands Verts/ALE

3

Austria Verts/ALE

1

Belgium Verts/ALE

Against (1)

4

Portugal Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

Against (2)

2

Denmark Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Greece Verts/ALE

Abstain (1)

1

Sweden Verts/ALE

3
icon: EFD EFD
21

France EFD

1

United Kingdom EFD

2

Netherlands EFD

For (1)

1

Belgium EFD

For (1)

1

Lithuania EFD

For (1)

1

Bulgaria EFD

For (1)

1

Finland EFD

For (1)

1

Denmark EFD

1

Greece EFD

2
icon: NI NI
22

France NI

2

United Kingdom NI

2

Hungary NI

2

Italy NI

For (1)

1

Belgium NI

For (1)

1

Romania NI

1

Spain NI

1

Bulgaria NI

1

Ireland NI

Against (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
28

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Portugal GUE/NGL

Against (1)

Abstain (2)

3

Latvia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Czechia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Croatia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Ireland GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

2

Greece GUE/NGL

Abstain (1)

2

Sweden GUE/NGL

1
icon: S&D S&D
151

Netherlands S&D

3

Hungary S&D

Against (1)

3

Portugal S&D

Abstain (1)

4

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Czechia S&D

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

2

Slovenia S&D

Against (1)

1

Estonia S&D

Against (1)

1

Finland S&D

Against (1)

2

Ireland S&D

2

Cyprus S&D

Against (1)

2

A7-0071/2014 - Mary Honeyball - § 8/3 #

2014/02/26 Outcome: +: 362, -: 202, 0: 36
FR PL IT SE ES RO IE EL FI BG HR SK LT SI CY LV DK PT MT LU HU BE EE CZ NL AT GB DE
Total
59
40
51
19
42
23
12
17
12
14
11
11
10
7
5
8
9
18
6
6
18
19
5
7
23
14
49
84
icon: S&D S&D
153

Ireland S&D

2

Finland S&D

2

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1

Czechia S&D

2

Netherlands S&D

3
icon: PPE PPE
214

Cyprus PPE

1

Malta PPE

2

Luxembourg PPE

For (1)

3

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Czechia PPE

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
28

Sweden GUE/NGL

1

Ireland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Greece GUE/NGL

2

Croatia GUE/NGL

1

Latvia GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Portugal GUE/NGL

Abstain (2)

3

Czechia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1
icon: NI NI
22

France NI

2

Italy NI

For (1)

1

Spain NI

1

Romania NI

1

Ireland NI

For (1)

1

Bulgaria NI

Against (1)

1

Hungary NI

Abstain (1)

2

Belgium NI

Against (1)

1

United Kingdom NI

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
75

Spain ALDE

2

Greece ALDE

1

Slovakia ALDE

Against (1)

1

Lithuania ALDE

Against (1)

2

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

Against (1)

2

Latvia ALDE

Against (1)

1

Denmark ALDE

2

Luxembourg ALDE

Against (1)

1

Estonia ALDE

2

Austria ALDE

1
icon: EFD EFD
21

France EFD

1

Greece EFD

2

Finland EFD

Against (1)

1

Bulgaria EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Lithuania EFD

For (1)

1

Denmark EFD

1

Belgium EFD

Against (1)

1

Netherlands EFD

Against (1)

1

United Kingdom EFD

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

2
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
49

Sweden Verts/ALE

Against (1)

3

Greece Verts/ALE

Abstain (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

2

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Denmark Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Portugal Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Belgium Verts/ALE

For (1)

4

Estonia Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Austria Verts/ALE

Abstain (1)

1

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

5

Germany Verts/ALE

Against (8)