Trafficking and prostitution are forms of coercive violence. Violence cannot be legalised or regulated, only outlawed.
Reform of Human Trafficking and Prostitution
Submission to Government Consultation
Today we gave the Hon. Julia Farrugia a submission in response to the government’s consultation on the reform of human trafficking and prostitution. Later this afternoon, we will share our proposals with members of the Opposition.
The submission was drafted by a multi-disciplinary coalition of academics, lawyers, and people who work directly with prostituted and trafficked persons. It has been endorsed by thirty-five local organisations ranging from: women’s organisations; the academia; medical associations; and other organisations that support societal wellbeing. It has also been endorsed by five international organisations and other key people.
Our proposal is founded on the fundamental value that trafficking and prostitution are forms of coercive violence; and that violence cannot be legalised or regulated, only outlawed.
The reality of prostitution is not 42 million ‘happy hookers’ making a free choice and earning good money. It is millions of psychologically unwell, physically trapped and injured women – nearly all of whom want to leave, but cannot find a way out.
Trafficking and prostitution exist because they are profitable and legislative regimes allow it. The global sex industry is worth US$3 billion, annually. Where prostitution is decriminalised, demand soars and trafficking increases.
Our proposal is predicated on values that prioritise the promotion of human rights and gender equality and embrace freedom and wellbeing. Our values also eschew the commercialisation of human beings and their bodies for exploitation and/ profit.
Translating these values into policy and legislative reform, we strongly urge the Government to:
Decriminalise those who are prostituted - People caught in prostitution should not be criminalised or victimised further for the abuse they endure.
Make buying sex a criminal offence - Buying human beings for sex is exploitative and harmful.
Create exit services - Offer a comprehensive range of legal, health, financial, educational and social services to support those in prostitution, enable them to recover from their abuse and build a life outside it.
All three policies MUST be included in the legislation and implemented as a ‘package’. Decriminalising those who are prostituted for example, without making the buying sex a criminal offence, would open up the sex industry and increase trafficking.
Giving effect to these changes requires a zero-tolerance approach by the police and the courts, along with specialist investigatory capacity to prosecute offenders.
We congratulate the Government for tackling this difficult and multi-faceted issue. We congratulate the Government also for tackling it holistically by recognising the connection between trafficking and prostitution with fake massage parlours and strip clubs.
In partnership with the Government and other stakeholders, we are confident that the policy and legislative reform we are proposing, will address the insidious impacts of human trafficking and prostitution in Malta.
Read our full proposals here.