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Conference on ending prostitution in Europe

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European Women's Lobby, EWL, conference, 14-18 October, week of action, ending prostitution, Nordic Model, Equality model, decriminalise prostituted people, Brussels’ Call partnersThere is still not a single country in the world where women are completely free from male violence.

We have witnessed much progress on many aspects of equality between women and men, something that is inspired by women’s resilience and their fight to push for more equality all over the world.

However, we are also witnessing a very general backlash in many parts of the world, including Europe, on various issues such as women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, and violence against women.

Prostitution remains a central form of institutionalised violence against women, which is why the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) advocates, through the campaign Brussels’ Call: Together for a Europe Free from Prostitution, for a legislative model which decriminalises all of those directly affected by prostitution while holding the pimps, traffickers and punters – the ‘buyers’ – to account.

And it calls for the Equality Model, which is also known as the Nordic, Swedish, or abolitionist model.

This model ensures that those affected by prostitution are decriminalised, and that the government provides exit support, including financial assistance as well as education, career and legal support.

The European Women’s Lobby believes in creating a Europe where women have real freedom to achieve their dreams, where the State provides those opportunities, and where violence against women in all forms is deemed absolutely unacceptable.

And it acknowledges that prostitution is a sexist, racist and classist system, which is a driver of, rather than solution to, cycles of poverty and violence.

The European Women’s Lobby also recognises that pornography, trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution are all part of the same system of oppression, violence, and objectification, which are ongoing blocks to true equality.

From 14-18 October the European Women’s Lobby and its Brussels’ Call partners will be hosting a conference called WomenObject! – Week of Action.

In addition to meetings of the European Women’s Lobby’s Observatory to End Violence Against Women and  Taskforce on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, there will be a series of public and internal actions with partners of the Brussels’ Call Together for a Europe Free from Prostitution.

Dozens of MEPs and over 200 human rights advocates and organisations, have signed the Brussels’ Call in support of ending this system, which disproportionately affects women and girls.

This campaign, which was started in 2012, is committed to a Europe free from prostitution; and to a Europe that stands up for equality, human rights and prevention of violence, and a Europe that denounces the sexism, classism and racism intrinsic to the system of prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls.

The 14-18 October meeting will bring voices of more than 150 women survivors, feminist advocates, allied movements and women leaders from all walks of life to the heart of Europe to engage, to strategise and to call for change.

This is an opportunity to mark the progress made towards an abolitionist Europe in the years since the European Union took a stance on the issue.

The conference will highlight the strength of support for this movement to continue, the ongoing role Europe plays in the system of prostitution worldwide, and set out our goals for the 2019-2024 term of the next European Parliament.

And it will enable spaces for dialogue, share learning and best practices, as well as to ensure the participation of marginalised women and inspire engagements from the ground to tackle the root causes, which allow sexual exploitation and violence against women and girls to continue.

The European Women’s Lobby will continue to advocate for better alternatives, holistic exit support and create policies that prevent the financial vulnerability that can leave women at risk and without choice.

For this to be realised and accessible across Europe, coordinated action must be taken at the European level.

And the European Women’s Lobby calls on political leaders to engage, be drivers of change and work together to end this system and ensure that all women are free from prostitution: together for a Europe free from prostitution.

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