Open letter of Coalition on Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion to Members of the European Parliament RE: Violence Against Women Report

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EATG endorses the open letter of Coalition on Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion to Members of the European Parliament regarding the Violence Against Women directive.

We, the organisations united under the Coalition on Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion[1] and the organisations’ signatories below call on all Members of the European Parliament to support sex workers’ rights and their inclusion and to reject any attempts to criminalise sex work as a part of the Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Report 2022/0066(COD) that is currently being negotiated in the European Parliament.


Our organisations are leading civil society networks and human rights organisations. We have decades of experience and expertise in human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV, harm reduction, the rights of LGBTI people, digital rights, anti-trafficking, migration, racial justice and criminal justice. Within these numerous fields of expertise, all 15 organisations have come to the same conclusion: criminalisation is not the solution. It is only by adopting a human rights based approach, decriminalising sex work, and meaningfully including sex workers and sex worker rights defenders in decision-making that sex workers can be protected.


The criminalisation of adult consensual sex that is subject to remuneration – including of sex workers, clients and third parties – continues to negatively impact sex workers’ lives and their access to health and justice in particular. Despite calls by some organisations to ‘abolish prostitution’ in order to protect and ‘rescue’ people who sell sex, there is no evidence that criminalising sex workers, their clients or third parties has any positive impact on the lives or human rights of sex workers. On the contrary, decades of evidence from academic research, civil society organisations and sex workers themselves clearly indicates that repressive policing and criminalisation directly harm the health, well-being and social inclusion of people who sell sex. This is the case in particular for those sex workers who are subject to multiple layers of marginalisation, such as racialised, LGBTIQ, and undocumented migrant sex workers.


We, the members of the Coalition of Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion, call on Members of the European Parliament to:

  • Reject any attempts to introduce yet another criminal provision that would conflate all sex work (prostitution) with violence against women

    Criminalising adult, voluntary, and consensual sex – including the commercial exchange of sexual services – is incompatible with the human rights to personal autonomy, dignity and privacy[2]. Denying a particular group of women agency is not only utterly patriarchal, but it is also in opposition to the goal of the Directive which aims to strengthen the right of women to give or withhold consent.

  • Reject any attempts to exempt sex workers from Article 35 

    Article 35 recognises sex workers as victims with specific needs and groups at risk. Listing sex workers in the Directive will have a significant positive effect on sex workers access to justice and holding authorities accountable.

  • Avoid using the term ‘women in prostitution’, ‘prostituted women’ or ‘prostitutes’ in this important directive

    This term has strong connotations of criminality and immorality and it is perceived by the sex working community as a demeaning and stigmatising term, which contributes to further exclusion and marginalisation.

  • Strengthen, recognise and amplify the role of communities and community based organisations that can play a vital role in crime prevention if meaningfully included and consulted

    Meaningful inclusion and consultation with affected communities should be set as a minimum standard in achieving the Union of Equality.



[1] The organisations who make up the Coalition are: Aids Action Europe (AAE), Amnesty International, Correlation European Harm Reduction Network (Correlation EHRN), European Aids Treatment Group (EATG), European Digital Rights (EDRi), European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Equinox – Racial Justice Initiative, Fair Trials, Human Rights Watch, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), The European Region of the  International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), La Strada International (LSI), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), and Transgender Europe (TGEU).

[2]  Amnesty International policy on state obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of sex workers, 2016, Human Rights Watch: Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalised?


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Source : ESWA

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