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[WATCH] Opposition would support prostitution reform if human body ‘not commercialised’ – David Agius

He acknowledged that several reforms were long overdue, while parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli stressed that inaction was not an option

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
2 November 2017, 10:15pm
Parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli (left) with Opposition Whip David Agius (right)
Parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli (left) with Opposition Whip David Agius (right)
David Agius, the Opposition’s whip and one of the contenders for Nationalist Party deputy leader for parliamentary affairs stressed this evening that the Opposition would support the Government in implementing a number of “long overdue” reforms, as long as the effect of their implementation was “positive, and to the benefit of everyone”.

Agius was a guest on current affairs programme Xtra, together with parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, who has been tasked with overseeing the reform of the industry.

“Our point of departure is clear,” she said, pointing out that the manifesto on which the Government was elected made reference to the subject. “But we must also give due attention to vulnerable people and the trafficking of human beings.”

Julia Farrugia Portelli said the current situation was not accepable
Julia Farrugia Portelli said the current situation was not accepable
Farrugia Portelli said she understood those who were against the practice and wanted it banned outright, but she pointed out that as things stood, prostitution wasn’t illegal in Malta. “Loitering and running a brothel are illegal, so those doing it in private are not breaking the law.”

She questioned whether for example, loitering should remain illegal, insisting that there were many questions that needed to be answered before the country could move forward.

“Is there help we can offer, rather putting people in jail,” she continued, stressing the importance of having a “mature discussion”.

Turning to Agius, Balzan asked how the Opposition was looking at the subject given that for a long time it seemed as though it would never be discussed.

Agius said the Government had a mandate, which the Opposition respected, but insisted that it needed to “explain where it wanted to go” with the reform. 

“We are prepared to discuss the matter as long as the human body doesn’t end up being commercialised,” he said.

In trying to better understand the realities faced by sex workers in Malta, Farrugia Portelli said that she had become even more aware of how difficult it is for women that wished to leave the industry, to do so, adding that the current system was woefully inadequate when it came to protection of sex workers.

David Agius said the Opposition would work with the government so long as the proposed reform does not commercialise the human body
David Agius said the Opposition would work with the government so long as the proposed reform does not commercialise the human body
“Its not possible for things to happen overnight,” said Farrugia Portelli, highlighting that she believed there were points the Government and Opposition could agree on. “We need to lay the foundations, putting in place strong exit programmes, including a fully-fledged structure that would allow people to leave prostitution if they wished to.”

Agius said that the PN was a party of the people and therefore needed to understand “what people were saying”. He once again reiterated that the “it needed to be made clear where the country wanted to go” with the reform before any, more detailed discussion, could take place.

“It’s not about saying you are in favour or against,” said Agius. “If it exists, how does it exist? Are there regulations? Is there peace of mind that these people aren’t being abused? Do we have a system in our country to determine these this?”

He asked what was known about the people using sex workers’ services, as well as whether gentlemen’s clubs were regulated.

At this point, Farrugia Portelli pointed out that the first gentleman’s club opened its doors under a Nationalist administration, and that most of the clubs were registered as bars or catering establishments.

Agius agreed, and said the Government would find the support of the Opposition in pushing through necessary reforms.

 

Watch the full episode in the link above

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...