Diverse Responses to Human Sex Trafficking
Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:17 PM

Illustrating one of the conflicts among those committed to ending human sex trafficking, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a draft resolution in July 2007 condemning forced prostitution.  At the same time, the discussion among member states revealed disagreement about which position to take on voluntary prostitution practiced by men and women above 18 years of age.   


In a report issued by the Rapporteur for the Committee for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Mr. Leo Plotvoet, a range of responses to sex trafficking are discussed.  The report divides the responses into three broad categories that encompass states’ responses to prostitution: prohibitionist, regulationist and abolitionist.  The report suggests that member states roundly condemn forced prostitution and child prostitution and demands that countries work to prevent and eradicate this practice. 


With regard to voluntary prostitution, the report suggests that there should not be double standards that make prostitutes more vulnerable.  Instead, they must be protected and empowered.  The report argues that states’ legal responses to prostitution must be based on a desire for human dignity, not on moralistic attitudes.  The report warns that if prostitution is strictly prohibited and prostitutes suffer legal consequences, prostitution may be forced underground.  If this happens prostitutes may lose their ability to demand safe sex practices, and they may be forced to forfeit their independence to a pimp.


Ultimately, the Rapporteur's report advocates for a regulationist approach to voluntary prostitution.  This position, the report suggests, will enable countries to regulate prostitution and thus ensure the health and safety of prostitutes.


To read the full report, click here. (pdf 19 pages)


Update: On 4 October 2007, The Council of Europe adopted Resolution 1579 condemning forced prostitution.


To read the full text of Resolution 1579, click here.


Compiled from: Platvoet, Leo, “Prostitution—which stance to take?” Issued by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Committee for  Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, 9 July 2007.