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Women’s NGO calls on government to view sex industry ‘holistically’

The Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations has urged on the government to consider the sex industry 'holistically', pointing to the 'facades' presented by club owners

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
15 August 2017, 2:04pm
The debate on the regularisation of lap dancing clubs was raised earlier this month when tourism minister Konrad Mizzi announced that regulatory legislation would soon be underway
The debate on the regularisation of lap dancing clubs was raised earlier this month when tourism minister Konrad Mizzi announced that regulatory legislation would soon be underway
The Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations (MCWO) has urged on the government to consider the sex industry “holistically”, pointing to the "facades" presented by club owners.

In an apparent response to lap dancing club owner Ronald Axisa’s rejection of claims that such outlets serve as hubs for prostitution, MCWO pointed out that sexual activity happens often takes place in the back rooms, in the VIP rooms, or in flats or hotels near to the establishments.

“So whilst strip club owners try to give the appearance that their business is harmless and clean, in reality such clubs serve to give a more acceptable facade to a dirty business. Hence, it is no wonder that strip club owners are pushing government to legislate,” MCWO said in a statement.

The debate on the regularisation of lap dancing clubs was raised earlier this month when tourism minister Konrad Mizzi announced that regulatory legislation would soon be underway.

The rules, which are still under consideration, classify lap dancing clubs as adult entertainment outlets, subjecting them to zoning requirements and obliging operators to adopt a code of conduct for performers and clients, according to a tourism ministry spokesperson.

The regulations could also allow nude dancing on stage, where no physical contact with clients was possible, but impose a semi-nude or clothed dress code for the more intimate lap dancing.

“[Regularisation] would give them the blessing to operate with more legitimacy when in reality it is aiding the normalisation of prostitution and sexual abuse,” the confederation said, insisting that the government was duty bound to legislate for the common good not for the benefit of strip club owners.

MCWO suggested that government embarks on “a serious process” of looking at the sex industry holistically rather ask owners to set rules on dancers’ attire or clients’ behaviour.

MCWO added that through this process, the massage parlours should also be taken into consideration. “We are aware that these ‘massage’ parlours, proliferating within our urban spaces including villages, are becoming of concern to strip club owners because they are now running into direct competition within their lurky businesses.”

The confederation pointed to an annual trafficking report published by the US Department of State, which indicated that Malta had retained its ‘Tier 2’ country classification.

MCWO said that the government should seriously tackle the issue of sex trafficking, claiming that women from China, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine were being trafficked into Malta to serve the expanding sex industry.

“The Maltese government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and the anti-trafficking budget of €20,000 is a joke.”

The ‘Tier 2’ ranking, which Malta has had for the past 10 years, means the United States considers Malta to be “a source and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking”. The ranking is given based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and countries whose government do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards.
The Tier 2 also notes countries as making significant efforts to meet those standards.