During the debate, the MEPs outlined what Europe must do to end the trafficking of women and girls: decriminalise and support victims; create safe and legal migration routes into Europe; criminalise procurers (pimps) and sex buyers (clients); and reduce the demand for prostitution.

GUE/NGL Coordinator on the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Malin Björk, who previously worked with police prosecutors and survivors of prostitution to fight the trafficking of women, explained that “we must have different strategies for different types of human trafficking. The most common form in Europe is for sexual exploitation.”

“Those who are exposed to this are women and children, so we must also have a gender perspective.”

Björk described the policies that are required to end trafficking: “We must strengthen the rights of those who are exposed. They must have all possible support and the right to residency permits.”

“We also have to fight those who make profits from the trafficking and fight the demand. This is the key.

“Instead of punishing those who are exploited, it's time to place the responsibility where it lies: that is on the pimps, the brothel owners and the sex buyers.

“To criminalise those who exploit others is an effective way to fight demand. If you remove the demand, then there won't be human trafficking.

“Today, the European Parliament must put its foot down and say that the exploitation of women, girls and young boys is not ok. This is a question of feminism, human rights and equality.”

Greek MEP, Kostadinka Kuneva, further described the challenges in overcoming the problem of human trafficking: “Only one per cent of the victims are apparently saved, and only two per cent of perpetrators are sent to the courts. There are action programmes in place to try to deal with this phenomenon, but there are very few results because of conflicts with other European policy areas – migration policy for instance.”

“Europe's refusal to open up legal migration routes actually means that migrants are pushed straight into the hands of traffickers.

“We need to send out a clear message that Europe should not allow this kind of trafficking to continue,” Kuneva concluded.


GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Nikki Sullings  +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

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