Flawed Honeyball Report on Sex Work Backed by European Parliament

MEP Mary Honeyball's flawed and factually incorrect report 'Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality' was backed by the European Parliament yesterday.The final report by Mary Honeyball, MEP was approved by the European Parliament by 349 votes to 139 on the 27thof February 2014. A motion for a resolution calling for “Member States to differentiate between ‘forced prostitution… and prostitution which is voluntary” put forward by a group of MEPs received 238 votes for and 334 against.

The report advocates for the Swedish Model to be imposed, criminalising the purchase of sex. The Swedish Model incorrectly purports to 'decriminalise the sex worker' however, a paragraph that would have recommended that member states repeal all repressive laws against 'prostituted persons' was voted against by the majority of MEPs, including Mary Honeyball herself. It is thus hard to see how the sex worker will be decriminalised.

The resolution is non-binding and therefore is not law but the implications are that EU member states would be encouraged to adopt regressive stances on sex work as a result of recommendations in the Honeyball report. 86 academics and researchers wrote to members of the European Parliament prior to the vote critiquing the Honeyball Report and urging MEPs to favour evidence and rights-based policy. A group made up of 560 NGOs urged MEPs not to support the report however, Mary Honeyball wrote to every MEP urging them to ignore international bodies including La Strada International who represents 12 anti-trafficking organisations accusing the group of being made up of 'pimps'. The call for Europe to uphold the human rights of sex workers by recognising their human rights was not heeded. The majority of MEPs chose to support an inaccurate and inadequate report which will negatively affect the lives of thousands of people engaged in sex work across Europe.