decriminalization

Amnesty Sweden rejects decriminalization proposal

Translated from Swedish

Original by Erik Magnusson published at sydsvenskan.se on 8 May 2014

Counter-proposal on sex purchase

Malmö. Swedish Amnesty goes against the positive view of purchasing sex expressed by Amnesty International.

At its annual meeting in Malmö this weekend, the Swedish section took a clear position against legal prostitution.

Last winter, Amnesty International caused an outcry among Swedish women’s organizations when its International Secretariat in London presented a proposal saying the organization should advocate the decriminalization of the buying and selling of sex.

According to the proposal, it is a human right for both men and women to prostitute themselves and legally sell sexual services.

Legalization is described as a way to grant prostitutes greater autonomy.

Ever since the proposal was presented, the Swedish section of Amnesty International has worked on a consultation response that goes against the parent organization’s proposal. Swedish Amnesty International has endeavored to anchor each syllable in local associations and women’s organizations.

–        ­We take a decision this weekend. We have considered the questions carefully. Our proposal is well established, says Sofia Halth, chairwoman of Amnesty Sweden.

–        We are against the policies proposed by the International Secretariat. We propose our own starting points for how we want to work on this issue, she adds.

According to the Swedish official response, it is just right to make it legal to sell sex. It is said to be in keeping with the Swedish Sex Purchase Act and described as “an important step in preventing abuse … committed by police and others.”

By contrast, Swedish Amnesty firmly opposes the decriminalization of buying sex and pimping.

The Swedish Sex Purchase Act has already been copied by Norway and Iceland. Similar legislation is underway in France while Belgium, Finland, Ireland and the UK are also looking to introduce similar laws.

However, there are countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany where the prerequisites for sex-purchase laws according to the Swedish-Norwegian model are not given.

There is much anger among Amnesty members in Sweden that the organization would globally act to decriminalize the purchase of sex, but Sofia Halth maintains a diplomatic tone in her comments on the proposal by Amnesty’s International Secretariat.

She believes that the proposal’s anchoring in human rights is “inadequate”, that it has a too one-sided focus on legislation, and that the legal issues the proposal refers to are “not clearly enough formulated”.

–        In addition, the material has been developed with a selective focus on the research that exists, says Sofia Halth.

Swedish Amnesty is expected to urge the organization to shift its focus on the issue of prostitution at the annual meeting in Malmö.

They want to move from affirming “free choice and consent” to working towards a world in which nobody is forced to sell sex because of discrimination, coercion, violence, vulnerability or poverty.

Swedish Amnesty wants for prostitution to be opposed not only through legislation, but also through a variety of social interventions.

“Those who sell sex are often at the bottom of the social ladder and are subjected to serious human rights violations. The Swedish section therefore thinks it is an issue for Amnesty, but that we should focus on these grave violations against people in prostitution,” says the proposed Swedish official response.

Amnesty International will not take its final decision on the organization’s position on prostitution before fall this year. Amnesty has sent out invitations for an international consultation this summer.

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Pimp confesses to beating and threatening women in German human trafficking trial

Translated from German

Original published at abendzeitung-muenchen.de on 27 March 2014 

Brothel owner admits to beating prostitutes

A brothel owner has admitted to the court that he has beaten his prostitutes [sic].

The Schweinfurt brothel owner has stood trial for human trafficking for several months. After prostitutes confirmed many of the charges, the man breaks his silence – and admits: violence was at times a daily occurrence at the brothel.

Schweinfurt – In the trial over human trafficking in a Schweinfurt brothel, the owner has admitted to having consistently beaten prostitutes. It was also intended as a disciplinary measure, the 38-year-old main defendant confirmed on Thursday upon the judges’ inquiry. The extensive trial at Schweinfurt Landgericht [district court] started in mid-December, but the man had kept his silence so far. He denied having threatened women with the death of family members during his confession.

The man is said to have prevented the prostitutes from leaving the brothel with violence and threats. Several alleged victims confirmed the charges in court. He allegedly lured some of them to Germany with false promises.

The man stressed that his online ads had always clearly indicated that it was about prostitution. According to his characterization, the beatings occurred mainly due to annoyance and anger when the women did not follow his rules – for instance if they failed to hide a colleague without valid papers during an inspection. He also consumed a lot of cocaine and alcohol, he said.

“Were you not also trying to make an example of them with this?” asked presiding judge Erik Ohlenschlager. “I suppose I did,” the defendant replied. However, he also stressed that the women were not locked in and that they could have left the brothel. “If one of them felt she absolutely had to leave, she could leave, any time.” When three women disappeared, however, he tried to find them again – and he also admits to having used threats to do so.

The man said little or nothing with regard to the charges against his co-defendant, a brothel guard. A separate trial has meanwhile been initiated against another alleged accomplice because he only participated in a small number of the 40 charges against the brothel owner.

 

The German Model: Brazil’s new prostitution law

Translated from German

Original published at banishea.wordpress.com on 27 March 2014

The German Model…

mulher nao e mercadoria

“Women are not commodities!”

…right on time for German boys. And for other boys. Right on time for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The German Model, which even parts of the international prostitution lobby dislike, because it largely dispenses with any sort of protection for women.

In July 2012, a bill was submitted in Brazil that was explicitly modeled on the German prostitution law (1).

Just like in Germany before 2002, prostitution is largely decriminalized in Brazil, i.e. those who are independently active in prostitution with their own bodies are not penalized for it. Neither are those who buy temporary sexual access to them. However, brothels, pimping and human trafficking are prohibited. This also means that the profits in these areas are illegal. Similar to Germany between 2002 and 2005, when the German prostitution law and amendments to the laws on pimping and human trafficking (2) were introduced, the government is now planning to intervene on behalf of the profits and profiteers of this industry. (3)

Just like the German law, the Brazilian bill consists of few clauses and paragraphs.

What was left to be decided on a case by case basis in Germany, for instance the question when “exploitation” is actually even given legally, has partly been incorporated into this law already. Here in Germany, the courts at some point decided that pimps collecting up to 50% of the earnings of a woman in prostitution – it’s usually a woman – is not exploitation. In the Brazilian bill, this is already given a specific definition, cf. Section 1, Para. 1.

Furthermore the Brazilian definition of “exploitation” includes the use of “severe”/“serious” violence when forcing women (others) into prostitution: “forçar alguém a praticar prostituição mediante grave ameaça ou violência. (Section 2, Para. 3, emphasis mine). It doesn’t say what that is supposed to mean, what actually constitutes “severe” violence and what, then, is comparatively “mild” violence or violence. This too is reminiscent of the German law, which deliberately left gaps and where it was just assumed that the courts would interpret it according to the legislators’ intentions and decide in favor or the women affected. (4)

The Federal Court of Justice has demonstrated rather impressively what this looks like in practice in the area of sexual violence (Section 177 ff.) (5). Due process resting on modal verbs.

The areas of pimping and human trafficking, where amendments in relation to the prostitution law were only made in Germany in the years after 2002 (2), are already included in the Brazilian package: human trafficking, both across borders and within the country, is an “act of solidarity” that mustn’t be criminalized as long as it isn’t done with the aim of sexual exploitation as provided in the definition shown above.

The German section on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, too, was amended in this respect in 2005. (2)

The reasoning is also taken from the German law: the legalization of exploitation (apart from the especially brutal) makes it safer, condoms cannot be distributed to decriminalized, independent women but rather only to brothels and pimps (okay, it doesn’t say it in those words, but that is the only conclusion that makes any sense…). An expansion of prostitution is not the intention. Sexual exploitation only happens as of now because there is no legal distinction between prostitution and sexual trafficking. (6)

Complementary crocodile tears for the under-18-year-olds are included.

At the same time, the bill concedes that “sex workers currently submit to bad working conditions and suffer from premature aging and a lack of career opportunities while having a career that ends early.” (Atualmente os trabalhadores do sexo sujeitam-se a condições de trabalho aviltantes, sofrem com o envelhecimento precoce e com a  falta  deoportunidades da carreira, que cedo termina. Daí a necessidade do direito  à Aposentadoria Especial, …) Therefore, they have a right to an early retirement pension. This is a point that is not in the German law and that also contradicts the important intention of the German law of having the women in prostitution pay into social security.

And although the law supposedly does not intend an expansion of prostitution, the bill explicitly refers to Brazil as a country with a growing economy, a country hosting two large sporting events that attract millions of tourists. This is also the reason for the pressure to get the law passed before June 12 (start of the FIFA World Cup). It is to come into effect one day after being passed.

Brazil is a country with high poverty. Human trafficking for all kinds of reasons (exploitation in agriculture, as domestic servants and for sexual exploitation) is a big problem. Indigenous peoples are especially affected.

They are trying to raise awareness of their plight on Youtube, Facebook and many social networks. That is how I know about them, and that is also where I found this bill.

I hope Germany gets knocked out in the first round.

 

(1) The German Text here was generated by Google Translate, and I mostly did not make any corrections. Emphases mine.

(2) See “Gesetze” on this blog [banishea.wordpress.com]. The links lead to legal websites where you can read about the amendments made. In the case of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, formerly Section 180b of the German Criminal Code and thus in the category of laws on offences against sexual self-determination, now Section 232 (category of offences against personal freedom), “sexual acts” has been qualified with the phrase “through which they are exploited”. “Sexual acts” used to be sufficient.

(3) Like many other well-meaning, open-minded people in politics, also among the Greens, the Left, the Social Democrats, I assumed that this law was intended to help those in prostitution and that it would. I still believe many of its supporters when they say that is what they thought. But the more I  research this law, the more bitter I become. Many people want to do good. But we were manipulated by people who wanted to get illegal profits legalized at last and by politicians who wanted to get access to tax money and social contributions. That is the un-sugarcoated truth.

(4) Galen, Margarete, Gräfin von, Rechtsfragen der Prostitution. Das ProstG und seine Auswirkungen. München (C.H. Beck) 2004, p. 25 and 27, partly 31.

(5) There are countless studies on this and increasing pressure on the German Federal Parliament to finally exert some regulatory force and to adapt Section 177 (sexual assault/rape) to European norms and the general sense of justice. But this does not document the misogynistic interpretation of the provisions (especially the force provision for rape, the basically impossible-to-fulfill condition of being “unprotected and at the mercy of the offender”, and the “general extenuating circumstances” in case of longer intimate relationships) as an expression of the German Federal Court of Justice’s ideology. A collection of information on this subject can be found at www.frauengegensexuellegewalt.wordpress.com. It is absolutely not advisable to make the safety of women and others in prostitution dependent on the Federal Court of Jusicte’s sense of justice.

(6)  ” Enforcing the marginalization of the segment of society engaged in the sex trade is to allow sexual exploitation to take place as no distinction is currently made between prostitution and sexual exploitation, which are both pushed to the margins and not monitored by the responsible authorities. // Impor a marginalização do segmento da sociedade que lida com o comércio do sexo é permitir que a exploração sexual aconteça, pois atualmente não há distinção entreaprostituição e a exploração sexual (…)”