MEPS lie, mislead and speak over the voices of sex workers. An open letter.

Posted on October 1, 2013


Today the European Women’s Lobby continued their crusade against sex work, hosting a day where they continued to perpetuate a number of myths, lies, and stigmatizing beliefs about sex work. No current sex workers or sex workers rights groups were invited to speak. We believe that this moral campaign will endanger sex workers and is not based on the fact. We are asking you to contact the MEP’s listed at the end of this, and ask that they listen to sex workers and the research which shows that the criminalisation of clients endangers us.

Dear (insert MEP’s name)

I am very concerned at your support for the Brussels Call, a series of initiatives which will endanger sex workers; push them into criminality; increase risk and is not supported by any research or sex workers’ organisation. Today the European Women’s Lobby released a statement which contained a number of untruths and stigmatizing statements with your name attached in support.

  • Between 80 and 95% of persons in prostitution have suffered some form of violence before entering the system of prostitution (e.g.,rape, incest, paedophilia).[1]
  • 62% of women in prostitution report having been raped.[2]
  • 9 out of 10 women in prostitution would like to exit the system of prostitution but feel unable to do so.[3]
  • 68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as victims of torture undergoing treatment.[4]
  • According to Interpol, a pimp earns 110 000 euros per year per prostituted person.
  • Nevada, where procuring is decriminalised, sees the highest rates of rape compared to all US states.[5]

[1] Melissa Farley et al., ‘Prostitution in five countries: violence and post traumatic stress disorder’, Feminism and Psychology, 8, 1998.

[2] Melissa Farley et al., ‘Prostitution in five countries: violence and post traumatic stress disorder’, Feminism and Psychology, 8, 1998.

[3] UK Home Office, Paying the price, 2004

[4] Melissa Farley et al., “Prostitution in five countries: violence and post traumatic stress disorder”, Feminism and Psychology, 8, 1998

Not a single one of these statements is supported by peer reviewed and accepted research. Melissa Farley has been discredited and has been disallowed from giving expert evidence in Canada and New Zealand. Academics in New Zealand filed a complaint against her, so problematic are her methods and conclusions. 

The statistic attributed to the UK parliament is in fact not found anywhere in that report, which indicates a lack of knowledge on this topic the Europeans Women’s lobby has.

You also put your name to the statement “Prostitution is violence against women” which denies the human rights of a sex worker to consent to sex, as well as making it more difficult for an oppressed and marginalized group to access support services. If your job is defined as violence it is very difficult to get help when you are actually on the receiving end of violence. This reached its apotheosis with the murder of a sex worker by her abusive ex partner in Sweden. 

The Pro Sentret report in Norway showed that criminalisation of clients leads to increased risks, rapes, violence, less time for screening, and lower condom usage. Economists have shown that it leads to lower prices, and sex workers being forced into changing their behaviour, with less time for risk management. That you support this is worrying in the extreme, and indicates little knowledge of, or concern for, the lives of sex workers.

The statement also claims that trafficking and sex work has decreased since criminalisation was introduced in Sweden. This is a complete fabrication which even the Swedish government does not claim. There are no pre-criminalisation statistics, and no evidence sex work has decreased. The lives of sex workers have become more difficult, which is seen as a victory by those who oppose sex work for religious/political/moral reasons. A 2011 study explains why a decrease cannot be claimed.

If you do genuinely care about sex workers, rather than supporting a campaign that will endanger them, I ask that you put your voice behind decriminalization on the New Zealand model. More information can be found out about their successful harm reduction and empowering of sex workers here.

To speak for sex workers instead of listening to them means you are ignoring the voices of an oppressed group, I hope this letter makes you reconsider and that you will contact sex workers groups in your country to learn more about what they want.


The list of MEPs and their emails, there is more likelyhood of a response if you are a constituent of a particular MEP listed, so if you are able to include your address that would be very useful. However simply volume of people standing up for sex workers will we hope have an impact

Véronique de Keyser, Belgium, S&D

Mariya Nedelcheva, Bulgaria, EPP

Antonyia Parvanova, Bulgaria, ALDE

Ivailo Kalfin, Bulgaria, S&D

Christel Schaldemose, Denmark, S&D

Britta Thomsen, Denmark, S&D

Emilie Turunen, Denmark, S&D

Siiri Oviir, Estonia, ALDE

Sophie Auconie, France, PPE

Marielle de Sarnez, France, ALDE

Nathalie Griesbeck, France, ALDE

Sylvie Guillaume, France, S&D

Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, France, Greens

Constance Le Grip, France, EPP

Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, France, EPP

Michèle Striffler, France, EPP

Catherine Trautmann, France, S&D

Franziska Brantner, Germany, Greens

Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Germany, ALDE

Kinga Göncz, Hungary, S&D

Zita Gurmai, Hungary, S&D

Nessa Childers, Ireland, S&D

Emer Costello, Ireland, S&D

Mairead McGuinness, Ireland, EPP

Gay Mitchell, Ireland, EPP

Phil Prendergast, Ireland, S&D

Silvia Costa, Italy, S&D

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg, Poland, S&D

Joanna Senyszyn, Poland, S&D

Ana Gomes, Portugal, S&D

Inês Zuber, Portugal, GUE/NGL

Iratxe García Pérez, Spain, S&D

Mojka Kleva, Slovenia, S&D

Göran Färm, Sweden S&D

Mikael Gustafsson, Sweden, GUE/NGL

Anna Hedh, Sweden, S&D

Kent Johansson, Sweden, ALDE

Olle Ludvigsson, Sweden, S&D

Jens Nilsson, Sweden, S&D

Carl Schlyter, Sweden, Greens

Eva-Britt Svensson (former MEP), Sweden, GUE/NGL ****can’t find her on the site

Alf Svensson, Sweden, EPP

Marita Ulvskog, Sweden, S&D

Asa Westlund, Sweden, S&D

Cecilia Wikström, Sweden, ALDE

Catherine Bearder, UK, ALDE

Fiona Hall, UK, ALDE

Mary Honeyball, UK, S&D

Claude Moraes, UK, S&D


Posted in: Uncategorized