9 European organisations call for decriminalisation of sex work in Malta

Source (institute/publication)

The International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), one of NSWP’s Regional Networks, have released a joint statement with 8 other European organisations calling for the decriminalisation of sex work in Malta.

The statement was released by ICRSE; ILGA Europe; Transgender Europe; the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation; the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants; La Strada International; European NGO platform against human trafficking; and European AIDS Treatment Group.

Read an extract of the statement below or read the full statement on the ICRSE website.

“With this statement, our organizations wish to express our support to the Maltese government in its effort to develop a law reform that would ensure that the rights of sex workers are protected. Our organisations, after careful consideration, consultation and research wholeheartedly support the decriminalisation of sex work.

Globally sex workers and their organisations are demanding decriminalisation, the right to self-determination and self-organisation. Our organisations support the principles that laws and policies which impact marginalised communities should be developed with the meaningful involvement of those communities, ensuring their views are heard and their demands included.

Malta is recognised globally as a leading country in the protection of LGBTI people, a position it has rightfully earned by listening to and working in close partnership with LGBTI organisations and community members. Sex workers are clear in their demands and these should be the guiding principles behind the current law reform efforts.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the critical necessity of engaging with and listening to communities and public health stakeholders and implementing policies that are based on both scientific evidence and human rights standards.

Our work tells us that without exception, policies that criminalise sex workers, migrants and their work or organisations supporting them, lead to more, not less, violence and exploitation. These types of repressive environments consistently undermine access to services, decent work and justice, and lead to increased human rights violations.

The impact of the criminalisation of clients, known as Swedish Model, on sex workers in countries such as Sweden, Norway, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland is unequivocal: sex workers report increased precarity and vulnerabilities to violence and infectious diseases (including HIV), whilst trust in authorities has plummeted. Meanwhile, in countries and states where sex work is decriminalised, sex workers’ report greater acces to legal protection. Their ability to exercise other key rights, including to justice and health care has improved. Decriminalisation of sex workers and their occupation contributes significantly to their protection, dignity, and equality.

The evidence is clear: only decriminalisation of sex work will protect the well being and dignity of sex workers.”