Open letter to AWID

27:e feb 2014

Last week AWID, Association for Women’s Rights in Development, distributed a statement written by Mama Cash and several other organisations. The statement was called “Barking up the Wrong Tree: Criminalizing Clients of Sex Workers will Not End Trafficking”. This statement is opposing human rights. We are now calling on AWID to clarify their position. Does AWID want legalized sex purchase?

Today, the European Parliament will vote on a report that recommends the Swedish model, which criminalizes the purchase of sex but not the person in prostitution (the Honeyball report). We know that the only way to reduce trafficking is by putting an end to the demand. We know that the majority of those who are trafficked are women and children. Countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, which has legalized sex purchase, are experiencing a devastating increase in the number of women who become victims of trafficking, violence and abuse.

According to Mama Cash’s statement, criminalization is always bad for the person in prostitution. Does Mama Cash have any research to confirm this? Experiences from the countries that have criminalized the purchase of sex, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, show that trafficking and sex purchases have been reduced. It is important to make a distinction between the criminalization of buying sex and selling sex. Criminalizing the purchase of sex can never be bad for the victim. It is also important to clarify that criminalizing the one who sells sex is not what the Honeyball report recommends.

Since 1949, the UN has a separate declaration against prostitution. The CEDAW clarifies a complete ban and that purchasing sexual services is one of the most serious violations of fundamental human rights.

We are calling on AWID to clarify their stand on prostitution, the sex purchase industry and trafficking.


Angela Beausang, chair, the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Shelters in Sweden

Carina Ohlsson, chair, the Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centers, SKR

Gertrud Åström, chair, the Swedish Women’s Lobby