Why is sex work criminalized

Symposium: About sex work and its criminalization

Vienna - The socio-political debate and the legal framework in the field of prostitution are extremely diametrical worldwide. The scientist and Helga Amesberger from the Institute for Conflict Research identified at least four different "regimes" in dealing with sex work at a symposium as part of the "Sex / Work / Lust / Illusions SELL / BUY" project.

In addition to sex workers, the LEFĂ– association, a counseling center for migrant women and scientists such as Helga Amesberger and Birgit Sauer, took part in the current initiative, which consists of radio broadcasts, talks and films. The online portal "lustwerkstatt.at" was also launched.

Between recognition and criminalization

In terms of content, they oppose a ban on "buying sex" by punishing suitors, which was introduced in Sweden in 1998 and which was also incorporated into French legislation in April. Director and activist Tina Leisch: "Illegalization definitely only means that sex workers have to work under worse conditions, are more exploitable, more vulnerable and more vulnerable all over the world," argued Leisch. "Legally, we advocate that sex workers are treated and viewed as normal self-employed and that they are talked to instead of making decisions about their heads. We also find the registration obligation unspeakable and advocate its abolition, as well as one of the compulsory medical examinations ", added art historian and director Alma Hadzibeganovic.

In New Zealand, where sex work is a recognized profession, according to Amesberger, activities have shifted away from brothels and towards more independent women. In a survey of 750 sex workers, a sharp decrease in violence was found, and the perception of the police, who were again exercising their protective function, changed, reported the author of "Sex work in Austria".

Models like the one in Sweden assume that prostitution is basically violence against women and that prostitutes neither consciously nor voluntarily decide to work. The term "sex work" is also rejected. According to Amesberger, however, this "re-education" has not changed the number of customers or the range of products that much. A study by the Swedish police, published two years after the law came into force, supports this statement. Currently, there are increasing voices calling for sex workers to be punished, according to Amesberger.

Fight for legalization of prostitution

In August last year, Amnesty International said it had decided to fight for the legalization of prostitution around the world. The human rights organization wants to protect the rights of prostitutes. The activist and director Tina Leisch does not consider the criminalization of prostitution to be beneficial either: "The fact that sex work is criminalized in some countries means that it then becomes a preferred business area for certain mafia-like structures, with people acting as professionals To do things illegally. "

However, the NGO's stance also received a lot of criticism, including from several Hollywood actors. And the representatives of the Nordic model also have a completely different view. Such legislation helps to prevent other activities of criminal networks, since human trafficking and "modern slavery" are closely linked to prostitution, it was said in February at the presentation of the "Stop Sex Buying Initiative" in Vienna.

Sexual exploitation was identified as the most common form of human trafficking in the fourth general report of the Task Force on Human Trafficking. As far as the market is concerned, the working group on prostitution assumes that it "can hardly be restricted or avoided in Austria," said the report published in June 2015. It is therefore recommended to create legal work opportunities and to regulate these legally in the interests of sex workers. And to subordinate the legislation to the federal government. (APA, 6.5.2016)