Posted on 6. December 2012 in Press

TGEU Statement on NGO Call for “Abolition of Prostitution” in Europe


6th December 2012

On 4 December 2012, a coalition of NGOs issued a call for the “Abolition of Prostitution” in the European Union.

Transgender Europe (TGEU) is worried about the recommendations proposed by this call and its potential impact on trans sex workers.

TGEU believes that the call excludes voices of sex workers who are the real agents of this discussion. Sex workers rights activists have criticised campaigns that aim at silencing sex workers’ arguments around the issues of violence against women, trafficking, criminalising sex work and clients.

TGEU supports the view that sex work is work. We believe that the only way to end violence against sex worker women is to respect sex workers’ right to be free from all forms of violence and to take proper measures in parallel with the demands of sex worker communities.

TGEU believes that the proposed recommendations of this call endanger sex workers throughout Europe, rather than being a solution of aforementioned problems. Sex workers’ rights organisations and international institutions like the UN demonstrate that criminalising clients through as in the “Swedish Model” increases violence against sex workers and repression through intensified policing measures[1], while decreasing access to health, justice and social services and fuelling stigma and discrimination[2] .

It is important to point out that sex work and trafficking are different concepts. Efforts that aim to link human trafficking with consensual sex result in further victimisation of especially migrant sex workers[3].

In respect to all above mentioned points, TGEU criticises the perspective and the proposed recommendations of the call. TGEU believes that discussions around sex work in Europe should be carried out in close consultation with sex workers. We call for abolishing stigmatizing and discriminatory legislation and a fact-based debate on how to improve the living conditions of trans and non-trans sex workers.



[1] Please see “Briefing Paper #2: Criminalisation of Clients” by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) on the adverse effects of the “Swedish Model” at:
[2] Please refer to “Sex Work and Law” (2012) – A joint report issued by UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS  that asseses laws, legal policies and law enforcement practices that affect the human rights and helath of sex workers in 48 Asia and the Pacific countries, at:
[3] Please see “Briefing Paper # 3: Sex Work is Not Trafficking” by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) on how equating sex work with trafficking and existing anti-trafficking legislations result in further stigmatisation, discrimination and violence against sex workers, at: