Sex work has long been legal in countries like the Netherlands. But now a petition has been launched to change the law and adopt the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland and France that makes it an offense for people to buy the services of sex workers. The petitioners claim that legal sex work leads to exploitation and human trafficking. What is surprising is that the 42,000 young people have signed the petition. What is not surprising is that many of these young people are religious.
Some sex workers are resisting the move.
Women working behind the red light windows have told me it is their free choice – but deeper conversations reveal it’s often based on circumstances which they felt left them with no alternative.
They include single mothers struggling to ensure that their children in Romania receive a decent education, and young women who have experienced abuse, leaving them with low self-esteem.
But Foxxy, a board member on the sex-workers’ collective Proud, warns that any attempt to criminalise clients would harm the prostitutes themselves.
“This petition is not in the sex workers’ interest. It’s people who read the Bible who are trying to stop us,” she argues.
“If this happens sex workers will work illegally. Then we’re more likely to be victims of violence. Clients will know we can’t go to the police. We will be much more at risk, clients will try to take condoms off, we’re more at risk of being exposed to HIV. It happened in France when they started this Nordic model.”
The number of petition signatories is large enough that the government will now have to discuss the issue.