At the national level

EWL Turkish members discuss prostitution and violence against women

[Istanbul, 11 November 2012] Several members of the EWL Turkish coordination gathered on Sunday 11 November to discuss the issue of prostitution. This capacity building seminar was proposed by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), as part of the EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’. Turkish members could exchange and gain knowledge from the expertise of Grégoire Théry, Secretary General of Mouvement du Nid France, and EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape, who is coordinating EWL’s campaign. The goal of the meeting was to update Turkish members on the issue of prostitution, so that they can continue reflecting and develop a common policy position on the issue.

When describing in two words what prostitution means for them, participants talked about ‘sexual exploitation’, ‘violence’, ‘patriarchy’, ‘marginalisation’, ‘domination’… Evoking the impact of prostitution on persons, participants mentioned ‘trauma’, ‘disease’, ‘no legal protection’, ‘discrimination’, ‘reproduction of subordination of women in society’… Grégoire Théry shared the experience of his organisation, working to support and assist persons affected by prostitution, and gave facts and figures about the reality of prostitution, giving ground to the views expressed by the participants. Participants also talked about the impact of prostitution on the whole society, on children and families.

In Turkey, persons affected by prostitution are mainly women, from disadvantaged groups, and some transgender persons and children. Undocumented migrants are much more vulnerable. Women in prostitution would come from Russia and Ukraine; 2000 of them would be deported from Turkey every year because of prostitution and STIs. Sex buyers are men from various categories and different ethnic backgrounds. Turkey also sees a phenomenon of young boys buying sex in order to loose virginity. The growing conservatism in Turkish society was highlighted as an obstacle to the establishment of strong policies tackling violence against women and prostitution. Such conservative views focus on the importance of virginity for young women, and foster hegemonic masculinity amongst young men.

In Turkey, prostitution takes place in different settings. Prostitution can be found on the street and in legal brothels. However, there are also many illegal brothels. Registered prostituted persons would have to undergo a health check, and unregistered ones can be prosecuted. Pierrette Pape presented the three main legislative approaches when it comes to prostitution (regulationism, prohibitionism and abolition), and shared the facts the EWL has been compiling about the impacts of each model on persons, on trafficking and on society. For the EWL, it is important to keep in mind that any legislation, even at local level, has an impact at global level, in a context of globalization; the situation of the Netherlands, where trafficking is on the rise due to the decriminalisating of procuring is a good example, where women from poorer countries would be exploited in both legal and illegal brothels. This is why the EWL believes that any policy on prostitution should be comprehensive and coordinated, and should ensure that no women and girls, from any part of the world, would be affected by the violence of the system of prostitution. Nowadays, the abolitionist approach proves to be the best way forward to protect women, as implemented in Sweden, Norway and Iceland, but also South Corea.

To find out more about the legal approaches, click here.

To find out more about studies on sex buyers, click here.

To find out more about survivors’ testimonies, click here.

To find our more on the links between trafficking in women and prostitution, click here.

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