Sex work: EU Parliament wants to restrict prostitution and punish johns

“Nordic model”
The EU Parliament wants to restrict sex work – and punish the customers

The European Parliament is calling for uniform sex work laws, modeled on the so-called Nordic model. This doesn’t punish sex workers, but rather the buyers. A change would also affect Germany.

The European Parliament has spoken out in favor of a ban on the purchase of sex based on the so-called Nordic model. In a resolution that has now been adopted, MPs called for uniform rules for prostitution in the EU states. Sex workers should therefore be better protected and have access to exit programs.

According to the parliamentary report, the previously different regulations in the EU member states have encouraged organized crime and human trafficking of prostitutes. The Commission should develop EU-wide guidelines that should guarantee those affected their rights.

According to the report, around 70 percent of prostitutes in the EU are migrants from particularly precarious backgrounds. “These people are not in prostitution out of their own free will, but out of a pure lack of prospects and alternatives,” explained the responsible MP Maria Noichl (SPD).

EU Parliament criticizes sex work conditions in Poland

Prostitutes are marginalized and criminalized, the report says. They therefore often have no access to the health and social security system or the legal system. MEPs called on Poland in particular to give prostitutes access to contraceptives and safe abortions.

According to the Nordic model, it is not the sex workers who are punished, but the buyers of sex services. Such a regulation currently applies in Sweden, among others. According to the report, there has been significantly less prostitution there since the laws were introduced.

The EU Parliament voted in favor of the report with 234 votes, 175 against and 122 abstentions. In Germany, prostitution has been completely legal and a normal business since 2002. The red-green coalition at the time wanted to use the law to improve the legal and social situation of prostitutes – but from an expert perspective, the opposite effect sometimes occurred.

CSU politician Bär calls for a ban on the purchase of sex in Germany

The deputy chairwoman of the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Dorothee Bär (CSU), recently called for a ban based on the Swedish model in order to better protect affected women. “The situation of prostitutes in Germany is dramatic. We urgently need a paradigm change: a ban on buying sex in Germany,” said the CSU politician to “Bild”.

According to their estimate, there are currently around 250,000 prostitutes nationwide. Most come from abroad, only a fraction are officially registered. “Germany has developed into the brothel of Europe. Germany is now also very attractive worldwide as a country for sex tourism,” said Bär.

The Federal Association for Erotic and Sexual Services reportedly rejects this move. Such a ban on purchasing sex would lead to even worse working conditions for sex workers in precarious situations, association spokesman Kolja-André Nolte told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “In plain language: Those who are actually supposed to be saved must remain in sex work.” This affects those without a career alternative.

According to reports, the Greens in the Bundestag also do not share the initiative. “We Greens are critical of a ban on buying sex,” said women’s policy spokeswoman Ulle Schauws. The Union is making it too easy for itself. “We know that a ban puts prostitutes at risk of being pushed into illegality.”


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