The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Discussions on prostitution reform still ongoing

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 7 October 2021, 10:10 Last update: about 8 months ago

Discussions on prostitution reform are still ongoing, Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici told The Malta Independent.

The minister was asked to provide any updates on the proposed reform. “Currently internal discussions are ongoing with the working group that was set up which is led by Ruth Baldachchino.”

The minister said he is also meeting with people who are speaking about this sector. “I met with the women’s associations, the Commission on Gender-Based Violence and I also have a meeting with a number of foreign experts this week,” he said.

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“I have ideas clear in my mind but I want to keep on listening and discussing. Once that process concludes we will move to an internal discussion in Cabinet”

Prostitution reform has been on the cards for a number of years, with various viewpoints on the way forward having been made public by different sectors of society.

The minister was asked whether the government is considering the Nordic model at all. The Nordic model decriminalises all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them get out of prostitution and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence in order to reduce the demand that drives sex trafficking.

He said that he was shown many models, including the aforementioned one as well as the New Zealand model and others.

“I believe we should have a model guided by principles. What are the principles: That we should not criminalise sex workers, but we must create a clear distinction between those who provide such a service because they want to and those who are being forced to. That distinction should be clear and guide us when it comes to the bill we will move forward for internal government discussion.”

Asked for timelines, the minister said that his priority was the cannabis reform which was launched on Wednesday. He said that the prostitution reform “is an important reform, as are others, and we will be moving them forward.”

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