Lydia Mutsch, the equality minister, photographed in October 2015
Photo: Mike Zenari
Journal: As the government struggles to find a new legal framework for tackling prostitution and human trafficking, participants at a recent conference were more forthright.
Gender equality minister Lydia Mutsch and justice minister Félix Braz have for some time been exploring a reform of the legislation regarding prostitution and the human trafficking that is inexorably linked with the sale of sex.
The ministers, from the socialist LSAP and the Déi Gréng party respectively, last year paid visits to Stockholm and Amsterdam to learn about different approaches to dealing with the thorny issue. Mutsch has gone on record as saying that the Grand Duchy should not simply copy any of the models for sex trade legislation in other countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands or even Germany. “We need a Luxembourg model.”
Mutsch spoke again at a recent conference organised by the Conseil national des femmes du Luxembourg at which guests included author Rachel Moran, who founded a platform for survivors of prostitution abuse. “I have met women from all over the world who have been prostituted and they all say exactly what I say; which is that it is a monstrously damaging and painful institution that we simply need to abolish.”
She urges governments to implement legislation along the three tenets of the Nordic model--“the decriminalisation of the exploited, the criminalisation of the exploiters, and what’s equally crucial is the exit strategy provision.”
Moran received support from detective inspector Simon Häggström from the Stockholm police forces’ prostitution unit. “An absolute majority of women that we help are victims of organised crime,” says Häggström. Sadly you never hear their voice, he says, whereas those in the minority who prostitute themselves out of choice often receive media attention. “But our legislation is not made for them, it is to protect the exploited victims.”
He also claims that the Nordic model’s aim to reduce the demand for buying sex, by making it illegal, will automatically impact on traffickers who profit from the trade. Figures that suggest violence against prostitutes falls significantly when the Nordic model is applied.
Others argue, however, that criminalising the purchase of sex will only drive prostitution further underground and that it even increases the potential danger faced by sex workers. An escort from Munich in the audience claimed that if clients know they can be prosecuted they will be in a hurry to conclude negotiations, and she will not be able to screen them as thoroughly as she can under current German legislation.
Nonetheless, the majority of the audience at the conference seemed to side with those arguing for the Nordic model. Current legislation in Luxembourg does not criminalise the selling or buying of sex, only the profit by a third party, i.e., by pimps or the owners of establishments in which sex is sold.
Although it is up to Mutsch and Braz to decide what a “Luxembourg model” will look like, neither got to hear the arguments being made--Braz did not even turn up at the conference and Mutsch left early.