On Monday 12/07, Members of European Parliament (MEP) from the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted on amendments to the Draft Report on identifying gender-based violence as a new area of crime listed in Article 83(1) TFEU. ICRSE and 11 European networks developed a joint letter to address MEPs to reject 4 amendments that would outlaw sex workers' ability to consent. MEP rejected the amendments.
The proposed amendments suggested invalidating the key concept of consent by making consenting adult sexual intercourse a criminal act, if it is the subject to financial transaction. This exemption would create situation of legal uncertainty, as it will deviate significantly the debate about sexual violence. Consent is a central concept not only in defining sexual violence and rape as codified by the Istanbul Convention, but also a central concept for sex workers. For sex workers, consent means agreed upon terms and conditions, under which sexual services are provided. If these consented terms and conditions are violated, the incident should be defined as rape or sexual assault and sex workers should be able to complain and access non-judgmental support services and justice. Conflating all sex work/prostitution with sexual exploitation undermines the agency of people to make informed decisions about their private and sexual life. ICRSE believes all people should have access to this right.
ICRSE appreciates that the majority of MEPs voted against these harmful amendments and deamnds MEP to stop calling for criminalistion of sex work, including clients. ICRSE also calls on MEPs to engage with sex workers to develop policies and laws that protect us rather than make us more vulnerable.