The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality has insisted that the decriminalisation of prostitution should be accompanied by the penalisation of sex buying, stating that this was what a human rights-based approach to prostitution reform entailed.
In favouring what is known as the Nordic model approach to prostitution, the NCPE has aligned itself with the Coalition on Human Trafficking and Prostitution, and against the government’s technical committee’s apparent position in favour of full decriminalisation.
The commission noted that the UN has made it amply clear that prostitution was “incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person,” and that states should suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution.
“Prostitution is a form of exploitation rife with physical and psychological violence. It is also, primarily, an exercise in power and control of men over women, since the absolute majority of prostitutes are women, while the absolute majority of pimps and clients are men,” the NCPE said.
“While prostitutes should not be punished for suffering exploitation, sex-buyers should be penalised. This disrupts the exploitative sex market and sends a strong message in favour of gender equality.”
The NCPE warned, as the coalition had done, that countries which normalised prostitution saw their sex market widen through an increase in both demand and supply, thus becoming a magnet for human trafficking and a hub of sex tourism. In contrast, it said, countries which criminalised the purchase of sexual services saw their sex industry shrink and human trafficking decrease in kind.
The commission also said that the discussion surrounding prostitution reform should bring into focus the behaviour of clients, who were mostly male, and the existing patriarchal structures of inequality “that lead many men to objectify women and buy their bodies.”