Church insists the purchase of sex should be criminalised

The church’s, Justice and Peace Commission and Caritas Malta, has participated in the presentation of a joint submission on the proposed prostitution and human trafficking reform

35 organisations have called for legal changes that would criminalise the clients of prostitutes (File Photo)
35 organisations have called for legal changes that would criminalise the clients of prostitutes (File Photo)

Prostitution should never be regulated or legalised but its victims should be helped to exit the lifestyle, two church organisations said.

The Justice and Peace Commission and Caritas Malta said changes being contemplated to Malta's prostitution laws should not be half-baked.

Both church organisations form part of a coalition of groups, including women's rights organisations, which earlier this week made joint submissions on the proposed reform.

The government has floated the idea of decriminalising prostitution so that prostitutes are helped exit their lifetsyle rather then face criminal prosecution.

However, the 35 organisations also called on the government to criminalise clients, stating that the buying of human beings for sex work was “exploitive and harmful”.

In its submission, the church spoke of three main goals that must be enacted together and not separately, in an effort to safeguard the human dignity of the victims.

The church called for the decimalisation of those who are prostituted, the purchase of sex to be made a criminal offence and the creation of exit services for those who are caught up in the industry.

The church said that most sex workers are caught up in prostitution against their will, and are victims of a broken system that enslaves them.

“They should not be criminalised or victimised further for the abuse they endure,” the church groups said.

The purchase of sexual services was a “degrading transaction” and a form of abuse, they added. “Participating in it [prostitution] often aids and abets other forms of criminality such as human trafficking and slavery.”

The church also raised concern over the lack of rehabilitation opportunities, and encouraged the government to pursue services which offer prostitutes a way out of the industry.

“A comprehensive range of legal, health, financial, educational and social services needs to be offered to support those in prostitution, enable them to recover from their abuse and build a life outside it,” the church said.

The church concluded the statement by warning those in charge of the reform that prostitution cannot be considered like any other lucrative industry.

“It is of utmost importance that the state prioritises the human person, in particular those who find themselves in a vulnerable position prone to exploitation and abuse. This principle should come before any possible economic gain or the demands of particular industries,” the statement said.

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