One forgets easily, probably in order to witness it without being shocked, but prostitution is not a freely chosen career. It is an attack on the dignity of the prostituted person and is part of the quiet violence practiced essentially against women. The demand for prostitutes feeds the trafficking market (80% of the victims of trafficking are sexually exploited).
Planète Enfants advocates not only for the abolition of all forms of regulation of prostitution, but also for the abolition of prostitution itself. This position, known as "neo-abolitionist" does not aim to condemn prostituted persons; it aims at pursuing those who exploit the system, that is the pimps, and to discourage the clients. This position advocates protection and assistance for reintegration of prostituted persons.
"...prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community" (Convention of the United Nations for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, December 2, 1949) Although not all prostituted persons are trafficked, a great majority of them are victims of trafficking. In France the OCRTEH (the Central Office for the Suppression of Trafficking of Human Beings) estimates that 83% of all prostitutes were originally victims of human trafficking.
In other words even if the scourge of trafficking is linked to supply in the country of origin due to extreme poverty, lack of education, important migration movements, inequality between men and women – it is also fed by the demand in the countries of final destination. Permissive ideas with regard to prostitution, tolerance and the acceptance of the activity as common-place all support demand on the part of clients. But prostitution is neither a "necessary evil," nor an "inevitable fact," nor a "profession". We reject any suggestion that prostitution is a profession, and we consider prostituted persons as victims who need to be helped with reintegration.
It was emphasized during the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993) that "gender-based violence and all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation, including those resulting from cultural prejudice and international trafficking, are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated. (It is essential ) to work at eliminating the violence of which women are the victims in public or private life, as well as all forms of exploitation, of harassment, or of trafficking." The elimination of the trafficking of women as well as assistance to women victims of violence related to prostitution and trafficking were the primary objectives of the international community during the Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
In spite of these nearly universal positions public policy, notably in France, is not sufficient to fight effectively against exploitation of the strong against the most vulnerable. In France the law of 2003 (concerning "passive solicitation") penalizes the victims (prostitutes) rather than the aggressors (pimps and clients).
Neo-abolitionist legislation is not unrealistic; it was voted in several countries including Sweden, and more recently Norway. In France a proposed law is being studied thanks to the work of the "Abolition 2012" coalition.
Overview of the Doctrines Governing the Phenomenon of Prostitution (source: FIDH)
CRIMINALIZATION (OR PROHIBITION)
Prostitution is considered a social evil which must be regulated by legal penalties. The prohibitionist approach tries to abolish prostitution by criminalizing all acts and actors, including the prostitute.
The idea is that prostitution is a matter of personal choice among consenting adults. Thus the relations between prostitutes and pimps, those who run houses of prostitution and their clients are considered outside the frame of penal law. Decriminalization aims only at punishing non-consensual acts.
The regulation model was founded in France during the Napoleonic period and was based essentially on a concern for public health. It authorizes prostitution and regulates its practice through authorizations, and, in certain cases, by the imposition of compulsory health controls. In the majority of countries under the regulation model the exploitation of the prostitution of others is not punishable. The only reprehensible acts are those involving minors or non-consenting adults. Under this way of thinking the prostitute is considered a sex worker and deserves the same rights that others enjoy in the work place and under commercial law, so that prostitutes can take charge like any other of their private and work life.
Abolitionism appeared at the end of the 19th century as a movement in opposition to the regulation model; it was inspired by feminist ideals and the crusade for the abolition of slavery. It considers prostitution as exploitation, and prostitutes as victims of violence. It advocates the abolition of regulation and the eradication of prostitution. Abolitionists work to remove women from the world of prostitution, and to find alternative solutions for them in the work world.
Prostitution is not criminalized, but simply tolerated. Prostitution exists in a legal vacuum, and is therefore marginalized. The exploitation of the prostitution of others, as well as all acts encouraging prostitution of a person, even consenting, is condemned. The client can also be penalized.