delve a little deeper....
Last week the European Parliament voted on Mary Honeyball's motion for a
resolution on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality. In other words she was recommending the Swedish (or Nordic) Model that criminalises the clients of sex workers.
The motion was passed with 343 MEPs voting for, 139 against and 105 abstentions.
It is worth remembering that this is not a legislative vote. It doesn't mean any laws will change and it is still down to each individual state to make it's own laws regarding the issue of prostitution. However, it felt like a huge kick in the teeth for many sex workers and their allies. It feels incomprehensible that ANYONE could not see that criminalising clients is not a way of making sex work safe for anyone however they got into it and whatever type of sex work they do. The problems with the Swedish model have been well documented so will not repeat them again and I expect I am preaching to the converted here, but just for the record:
Sweden's Sex Trade Laws: Not the Answer by Wendy Lyon and Stephanie Lord on Feminist Ire.
If Europe votes for the 'Swedish model' on prostitution, women will be at risk by Diane Taylor in The Guardian.
A response to Mary Honeyball on Total Politics by Alex Bryce et all
And my thoughts here!
So whilst many sex workers were gutted at the results and that it would impact on the possible (likely) recommendation by the APPG report next week to criminalise sex work. Last weeks vote does not bode well. Or does it?
Looking more closely at the votes from last week from UK MEPs the result doesn't seem so bleak.
Of the 73 UK MEPs only 7 voted For, 15 against, 25 didn't vote and 26 abstained.
So, more UK MEPs voted against Honeyball. This is good.
I'm not entirely sure about the difference between not voting and abstaining to be honest (I've never claimed to be a politics expert!) but the reasons this may happen are:
They disagree with their party line but do not want to vote the other way (rebel)
They do not feel informed enough about the issue
They can not make their mind up
They agree and disagree with parts of the motion
They are ambivalent about the issue
This means that with 51 of UK MEPs not making a yes or no vote there is certainly much uncertainty about the belief criminalising sex worker's clients is the way forward. If this attitude runs through MPs as well there is certainly a nice big fat space for those campaigning for sex work laws to become safer to get their voice listened to and understood.
The ECR (European Conservative and Reformist party) party line was to abstain, and all 27 of their MEPs either abstained or did not vote. This may be due in part to Marina Yannakoudakis's strong and open opposition to Honeyball. Here is her open letter to her.
Yannakoudakis sit's on the European Parliament’s gender equality committee alongside Honeyball. Interestingly fellow Brit MEPs who sit on this committee Godfrey Bloom, Nicole Sinclaire did not vote at all (so not in favour) of Ms Honeyball either. One of the Vice Chairs of the European Parliament’s gender equality committee Barbara Matela abstained, also going against her Party's line (The ECP).
It's also interesting to see that Honeyball's own party S&D (The Socialists & Democrats) did not do what it was told. The party line to its 13 UK MEPs was to vote in favour. Only two voted for (One was Honeyball obviously!) 10 either abstained or didn't vote and one (Brian Simpson) voted against.
So I don't think all is lost. I think from what our UK MPs have behaved should be seen a positive thing. It does bode well for the UK. There is room to change minds if/when it comes to campaigning against the criminalisation of sex work. I also think it demonstrates a lack in faith of Ms Honeyball's report, her flawed stats and outrageous lies. I think knowing that The UN, Amnesty and over 500 NGOs and 90 researchers have rejected Honeyball's report any MEP with half a brain is bound to be cautious! Read this from the ICRSE (International on The Rights of Sex Workers in Europe) to see who and how many have rejected and refuted Honeyball.
Don't lose heart, use that anger and upset to rally together against any future action against sex workers! Honeyball, like Rhoda Grant will be seriously discredited over this!
Love to you all!