Proposed Maltese Government reforms on sex work and human trafficking fail to affirm that prostitution is always “intrinsically wrong”, a Catholic lay group has warned.

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The Catholic communications group Catholic Voices Malta published a position paper Thursday on the proposed reforms.

While it welcomed politicians’ efforts to combat human trafficking and to place at the centre of policy-making the victims of trafficking and prostitution, the group said those efforts failed to recall that “prostitution is intrinsically wrong because it violates the human dignity of the person involved”.

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“If a prostitute is a victim, and for this reason we agree to decriminalise, the prostitute remains a victim even after we manage to remove the stigma [and] regularise prostitution and create so called ethical standards of recruitment”, Catholic Voices said.

“If prostitutes are victims, they are victims whether they have been trafficked or whether they enter prostitution for other circumstances, even if these are purely economic”.

The lay group warned the Government that the regularisation of prostitution can never be justified by human rights principles, since “it is precisely the human [rights] principle of human dignity that prostitution violates”.


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Why it matters

Catholic Voices urged politicians not to be taken in by the economic demands of brothels, “Gentleman’s Clubs” and the like, who argue that Malta’s internationalisation necessitates the legalisation of sex work.

“Women can never become ‘perks’ for an industry”, the lay group insisted.

Catholic Voices urged lawmakers “to rethink the orientation of the reform” and to bring changes more in line with models that have a proven track record in reducing human trafficking, reintegrating prostitutes into society and respecting the human dignity of sex workers, “like the Swedish Model”.

That “Swedish Model” decriminalises the prostituted, ensures support for their exit from the industry, and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence.

What’s next

Catholic Voices Malta urged the Government to remember that “the dignity of a person goes beyond providing a way out of prostitution”.

“We need to create a culture of unacceptance of the objectification of a woman’s body”, the group explained.

It also called for “the provision of education and work opportunities that value the contribution of the person and provide a source of fulfilment in the alternative work a former prostitute does”, as a way out of the continued “degradation and humiliation” that he or she suffers.

“Prostitutes should be decriminalised, but prostitution should remain a criminal activity, with heavier sanctions being placed on persons found guilty of trafficking human persons, operators of clubs and outlets that host trafficked persons [and] pimps and persons seeking the services of a prostitute”, Catholic Voices insisted.

“This clearly implies that strip clubs and similar operations should not be licenced and the concept of ‘ethical recruitment’ withdrawn”, it concluded.