At the crossroads

Investigating the interaction between prostitution and anti-trafficking policies and practice. A country comparison

October 10, 2014, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

Panel Discussion

  • Introduction: Nadja Schuster | Gender Consultant, VIDC
  • Keynote: Julia O’Connell Davidson | University of Nottingham
  • Alina Braşoveanu | Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Sietske Altink | Sekswerkerfgoed, Amsterdam
  • Helga Amesberger | Institute for Conflict Research
  • Moderator: Birgit Sauer | University of Vienna

Prostitution policies should protect the rights of the most vulnerable group

Prostitution policy in its complexity interacts with different policy fields such as migration, health, gender, security and human trafficking. Thus it is critical to define clear and distinctive aims for different policies. Neither prostitution nor anti-trafficking policies should be misused to restrict migration. Any attempt to make sex work invisible by criminalizing sex workers and/or clients and by transferring sex workers to unsecure, non-residential areas, furthers their vulnerability to exploitation, the black market and sex trafficking. Consequently prostitution policies should protect the rights of the most vulnerable group in the sex market, the sex workers, and actively involve sex workers organizations in policy formulation and implementation.At this panel international experts and representatives of sex workers organizations will discuss what kind of harmful and unintended effects different prostitution policies –by the examples of the Netherlands and Austria – have on the combating of trafficking in human beings.

Learning from evidence and empirical research

In order to promote evidence-based policy making and implementation, the purpose of this debate is to learn from evidence or empirical research and to counteract morally charged assumptions and prejudices that guide prostitution and anti-trafficking policy processes.

  • Which political and legislative measures in the field of prostitution would have positive effects on sex workers’ rights taking intended and unintended effects on the combat of human trafficking into account?
  • What kind of working environment and employment relationship are needed to end the stigmatization and discrimination of sex workers endorsed by employment, migration and (social) security policies?
  • How should a coherent, human rights-based anti-trafficking policy that recognizes and protects sex workers’ rights look like?
  • What can Austria learn from prostitution and anti-trafficking policies in the Netherlands, UK and New Zealand?

Organisation: VIDC – Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation



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