Nationalists want Nordic model for prostitution reform, not regularisation of sex buyers

Metsola and Buttigieg on prostitution reform: “It should be clear that words such as ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ do not apply to prostitution”

Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg and European Parliament vice-president Roberta Metsola have sounded the alarm over the prospect of regularising prostitution and opening the doors to human traffickers. 

The Nationalist MP and MEP respectively said the proposed reform by the Labour government does not champion vulnerable women, and instead “condones and legitimises the abuse and harm perpetrated against women and girls trapped within it.” 

“It should be clear that words such as ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ do not apply to prostitution. Yet, these terms are consistently used in the justification of its legalisation. This distorts the reality of prostitution, presenting a glossy version of the sex industry which we know to be false. Classifying prostitution as work does little to rectify the exploitative reality of the sex industry,” the two politicians said in a column penned in The Malta Independent. 

The MPs said that a legalised form of prostitution risked making the State actively complicit in the exploitation of vulnerable women and girls. 

They warned that women from non-EU countries could obtain work visas for prostitution. “If so, what would this mean for those women who wish to stop selling sex despite holding a work visa? Two options present themselves. Either, women would be deported for exercising their human right to refuse sex or they would be allowed to stay despite refusing to ‘work’, providing a migration loophole readymade for easy entry into Malta.” 

They also suggested that the same arguments to treat prostitution as sex work could be used for other objectionable and predatory transactions, such as the sale of organs. “Most people who sell their organs are vulnerable and easily exploited,” they warned.  

The PN members suggested they agree with the so-called ‘Nordic’ model that decriminalises those who sell sex, while criminalising buyers and pimps. “It acknowledges the exploitative and misogynist nature of the sex industry, providing exit strategies for women who wish to leave prostitution.” 

The Maltese government’s proposed reform would treat prostitution as a voluntary transaction between consenting adults. But a coalition of women’s organisations have protested the reform. Dar Hosea, the only shelter for vulnerable women in prostitution in Malta, has stated that the “vast majority of women do not freely involve themselves in prostitution”.

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