Survey results announced on Tuesday by the Malta Women’s Lobby give a very clear message to government not to legalise or decriminalise prostitution, the group said.
The Malta Women’s Lobby, a coalition of 40 NGOs in Malta, with the support of five international organisations including the European Women’s Lobby, support the principles of the Equality Model in relation to prostitution, shared the findings of a scientific telephone survey carried out by MISCO in February in Malta this year.
The Equality Model decriminalises and supports vulnerable women, girls, boys, trans, and gay men caught in prostitution, but sanctions the buyers, pimps, and traffickers so as NOT to allow the sex industry and trafficking to grow, the group said in a statement.
The survey was completed two months ago, with the Women’s Lobby saying it was their intention to present the results to the prime minister prior to making them public. “We considered it necessary to share such important findings with the government. Unfortunately, the prime minister has not yet returned our repeated requests for an appointment.”
The group expressed hope that the government realises that the road it has embarked on goes against the wishes of the Maltese people and those who have gender equality at heart. “A government committed to gender equality does not legalise the selling of human bodies for sex, as if they were an object to be used and abused by men.”
Survey results show that prostitution is not considered as a normal job, contrary to what is being argued by some government exponents.
On the contrary, when asked about the extent to which they believe there is a risk for individuals working in prostitution 96% believe there is a risk of physical injury, 98% believe there is a risk of sexual violence, 97% believe there is a risk of mental trauma, and 99% believe there is a risk of sexual health problems.
Opening up prostitution is bad for the country but good for organised crime. Nearly three out of every fourth citizen believes that prostitution will largely benefit organised crime through increased money laundering, human trafficking and the sale of illegal drugs.
Eighty per cent believe there is a risk that if prostitution is legalised, it will increase sexual violence in society – which largely affects women and girls.
Legalising prostitution makes people feel unsafe in their homes. Since the government is planning to decriminalise loitering and soliciting but does not plan to open brothels for the time being, as happened in other countries, prostituted persons will start offering their services from pop up brothels in flats, homes, cars, public gardens, and so on.
Over 80% declared that they would feel unsafe knowing that a home near them is being used as a brothel, and the Maltese clearly do not want the industry to expand – 72% of respondents claimed that prostitution is a form of sexual violence and should be stopped.
Seventy-five per cent agreed that even if some people choose to sell sex, prostitution has negative social impacts that cannot be ignored. Almost 90% agreed that government should provide welfare to help people not get drawn into prostitution.
Based on this research, the Women’s Lobby called for the government to protect vulnerable women, girls, boys, trans and gay men caught in prostitution and to offer exit services. In addition, the government should not protect buyers, pimps, and traffickers – these must be sanctioned so as not to allow the sex industry and trafficking to grow, the group said.