Author(s): Various

Survivors of Prostitution and Trafficking Manifesto
Press Conference – European Parliament

Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
“Who Represents Women in Prostitution?”
October 17, 2005

We, the survivors of prostitution and trafficking gathered at this press conference today, declare that prostitution is violence against women.

Women in prostitution do not wake up one day and “choose” to be prostitutes. It is chosen for us by poverty, past sexual abuse, the pimps who take advantage of our vulnerabilities, and the men who buy us for the sex of prostitution.

Prostitution is sexual exploitation, one of the worst forms of women’s inequality, and a violation of any person’s human rights.

Many women in prostitution have been severely injured, some have died, and some have been murdered by their pimps and customers.

Physical violence, rape and degradation are often inflicted on us by customers, pimps, recruiters, police and others who gain from prostitution. The public either judges us as “whores” or thinks we make a lot of money.

The condition of women in prostitution is worsened by laws and policies that treat us as criminals and the scum of society, while customers, pimps, managers and sex business owners are not made accountable. Our condition is also made worse by giving licenses to prostitution enterprises and legal protection to pimps, customers and the sex industry

Most women are drawn into prostitution at a young age. The average age of entrance into prostitution worldwide is 13.

Victims of prostitution and trafficking have almost no resources to help them exit. Programs that provide alternatives for women in prostitution are very few.

Women in prostitution dream of a life free from oppression, a life that is safe, and a life where we can participate as citizens, and where we can exercise our rights as human beings, not as “sex workers.”

We, survivors from Belgium, Denmark, Korea, the UK and the United States declare:

1. Prostitution must be eliminated. Thus, it should not be legalized or promoted.

2. Trafficked and prostituted women need services to help them create a future outside of prostitution, including legal and fiscal amnesty, financial assistance, job training, employment, housing, health services, legal advocacy, residency permits, and cultural mediators and language training for victims of international trafficking.

3. Women in prostitution need governments to punish traffickers, pimps and men who buy women for prostitution and to provide safety and security from those who would harm them.

4. Stop arresting women and arrest the perpetrators of trafficking and prostitution.

5. Stop police harassment of women in prostitution and deportation of trafficked women.

6. Prostitution is not “sex work,” and sex trafficking is not “migration for sex work.” Governments should stop legalizing and decriminalizing the sex industry and giving pimps and buyers legal permission to abuse women in prostitution.

As survivors of prostitution and trafficking, we will continue to strengthen and broaden our unity, help any woman out of prostitution, and work with our allies to promote the human rights of victims of trafficking and prostitution.