The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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Prostitution reform: ‘We have the expertise to create a unique model for Malta’

Giulia Magri Monday, 7 September 2020, 07:58 Last update: about 5 years ago

Malta has the expertise to create a model for prostitution reform that is unique to the Maltese context, Commissioner for Domestic Violence Audrey Friggieri told The Malta Independent.

This newsroom contacted Friggieri following the news that the Prostitution Reform Technical Committee is in the initial stages of drafting a legal framework that aims to decriminalise sex work. Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms, Rosianne Cutajar, had informed this newsroom that the decriminalisation of sex work is being done to ensure the safety and well-being of sex workers, to safeguard their human rights and protect them from exploitation.

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“I reject the notion that only two models exist. Both models (Nordic and full-decriminalisation) when applied in practice, have had their positives and negatives. I am convinced that we have the expertise to create a model which is unique to the Maltese context,” the Commissioner said.

“I agree that government should fully regulate sex work and ensure that sex workers do not face discrimination in law or practice,” said Friggieri. She explained that by regulating sex work, it maximises sex workers’ legal protection and their ability to exercise other key rights, including justice and health care.

“Legal recognition of sex workers and their occupation maximizes their protection, dignity and equality. This is an important step towards de-stigmatising sex work.”

Friggieri also mentioned the difference between those individuals who have chosen to work in the sex industry and those who have been forced into it. “Sex workers, those individuals who have chosen to work in the industry, are sex workers with individual agency; the latter are victims. This is a distinction which the policy makers must keep in mind in this important reform. Both must be protected and empowered.”

She highlighted that there is a significant relationship between victims forced into prostitution and human trafficking. “While human trafficking is wider than prostitution, and can manifest itself in a variety of forms, it is a fact that many women and men are trafficked for the purpose of sex.” She said that the two distinct realities must be addressed in parallel in order to delve into the realities faced by victims of trafficking, victims coerced into prostitution, as well as sex workers.

When asked whether she has ever worked on cases of sex workers facing domestic abuse, Friggieri replied that she has not worked directly on such cases.

A coalition of 40 NGOs, comprising of mostly women’s groups and experts in gender equality, have come together calling for sex-buying to be made a crime. The coalition warned that decriminalising sex work will turn Malta into a hub of sex tourism.

When asked whether she believes that sex-buyers should be penalised, Friggieri said that she rejects that only two models exist and is convinced that Malta has the expertise to create its own unique model.

 

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