REPORT on the consequences of the sex industry in the European Union
(2003/2107(INI))

15 April 2004

Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities
Rapporteur: Marianne Eriksson

PROCEDURAL PAGE

At the sitting of 3 July 2003 the President of Parliament announced that the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities had been authorised to draw up an own-initiative report under Rule 163 on the consequences of the sex industry in the European Union.

The committee appointed Marianne Eriksson rapporteur at its meeting of 26 November 2003.

It considered the draft report at its meetings of 19 January, 30 March and 7 April 2004.

At the latter meeting it adopted the motion for a resolution by 11 votes to 9, with 0 abstention.

The following were present for the vote: Anna Karamanou (chairperson), Olga Zrihen Zaari (vice-chairperson), Marianne Eriksson (rapporteur), Uma Aaltonen, María Luisa Bergaz Conesa, Armonia Bordes, Lone Dybkjær, Lissy Gröner, María Izquierdo Rojo, Karin Junker (for Christa Prets, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Hans Karlsson, Astrid Lulling, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Ria G.H.C. Oomen-Ruijten, Herman Schmid (for Geneviève Fraisse, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Olle Schmidt, Patsy Sörensen, Joke Swiebel and Anne E.M. Van Lancker

The report was tabled on 15 April 2004.

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the consequences of the sex industry in the European Union

(2003/2107(INI))

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to the United Nations Conventions and Declarations and, in particular, to Article 6 of the CEDAW[1] Convention which seeks to combat all forms of traffic in women and the exploitation of the prostitution of women,

-   having regard to Articles 4 and 5 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights[2],

-   having regard to Articles 34 and 35 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child[3]which concern the protection of children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and seek to prevent the abduction of or the sale of or traffic in children,

-   having regard to the 2000 Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nation convention against transnational organized crime[4], annexed to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime in which trafficking in human beings is defined as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs,

-   having regard to the D.3 strategic goal of the 1995 Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration[5],

-   having regard to ILO Convention No 29 on forced or compulsory labour, Article 2 of which defines forced labour as: 'all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily', and having regard to the ILO Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants and the Members of their Families,

-   having regard to its resolution of 15 June 1995[6] on the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing 'Action for Equality, Development and Peace',

-   having regard to the Council of Europe Recommendations in this field, such as R No 11 of 2000[7], on trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, R No 5 of 2002[8] on the protection of women against violence as well as the Recommendation 1545 of 2002[9] on the campaign against trafficking in women,

-   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2000[10] on the follow-up to the Beijing Action Platform,

-   having regard to the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) Brussels Declaration[11] on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, which calls for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and effectively coordinated policy that involves actors from all the fields concerned,

-   having regard to the 2000 OSCE Vienna Ministerial Decision No 1[12] in support of the OSCE measures and to the OSCE Action Plan to combat trafficking in human beings (Decision No 557, taken in 2003),

-   having regard to Articles 2 and 13 of the Treaty on European Union,

-   having regard to the Council Framework Decision of 19 July 2002 on combating trafficking in human beings,[13]

-   having regard to the Council Resolution on initiatives to combat trafficking in human beings, in particular women[14],

-   having regard to its resolution of 13 April 1999 on fight against child pornography[15],

-   having regard to its legislative resolution of 16 April 1999 on European Parliament and Council Decision adopting a programme of Community action (the DAPHNE Programme) (2000-2004) on measures aimed to prevent violence against children, young persons and women[16],

-   having regard to its resolution of 17 December 1998 on respect for human rights in the European Union[17],

-   having regard to its resolution of 10 February 1999 on the harmonisation of forms of protection complementing refugee status in the European Union[18],

-   having regard to its resolution of 13 May 1998 on the proposal for a Council Recommendation concerning the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services[19],

-   having regard to its resolution of 16 December 1997 on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation[20],

-   having regard to its resolution of 6 November 1997 on the Commission communication on combating child sex tourism and the aide-memoire on the European Union's contribution to reinforcing the prevention of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children[21],

-   having regard to its resolution of 16 September 1997 on the need to establish a European Union wide campaign for zero tolerance of violence against women[22],

-   having regard to its resolution of 24 October 1997 on the Commission Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services[23],

-   having regard to its resolution of 24 April 1997 on the Commission communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet[24],

-   having regard to its legislative resolution of 12 June 2001 on the proposal for a Council framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings[25],

-   having regard to its resolution of 19 May 2000 on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament 'For further actions in the fight against trafficking in women'[26],

-   having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2000 on the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee on crime victims in the European Union: Reflexions on standards and action[27],

-   having regard to its legislative resolution of 11 April 2000 on the initiative of the Republic of Austria with a view to adopting a Council decision to combat child pornography on the Internet[28],

-   having regard to its resolution of 30 March 2000 on the communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism[29],

-   having regard to its legislative resolution of 12 June 2001 on the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography[30],

-   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

-   having regard to the report of the Committee of Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities (A5-0274/2004),

A.   whereas the sex industry can be defined as an undertaking which legally or illegally puts in the market sexual services and/or products and exploits the human body, mainly of women and children, for profit-making,

B.   whereas the sex industry has an adverse impact on equality; whereas, because it is based on the pursuit of profit by focusing on buyers as a target group (generally men), it constructs an image of unequal relations between men and women (and increasingly frequently also children), in which women are presented as objects for consumption, dominated and exploitation; whereas, because this industry normalises sexual violence, it undermines all the efforts which the EU and its Member States have made to give women and men fundamental human rights; whereas the sex industry is protected by freedom of expression but promotes and helps to create and maintain men's aggression and women's commercialisation,

C.   noting that the term ‘sex workers’ covers not only women and children but men as well,

D.   whereas such products and the provision of services may be legal or illegal, depending on the circumstances,

E.   whereas all European legislation relating to the free movement of goods and services is applicable to the legal side of this sector of the economy,

F.   whereas, in Case C-268/99 (ECJ, 20 November 2001, Aldona Malgorzata, Jany and others), the European Court of Justice ruled that the practice of prostitution may cover the provision of services within the meaning of Community law or else a non‑salaried activity exercised by a self-employed person,

G.   convinced that the greater part of this industry does not benefit the women who are 'used' therein but is based on the exploitation of the most vulnerable women who frequently find themselves in situations that might be defined as slavery, and calling for studies to be carried out in the Member States and at European Union level into the 'entrepreneurs' and those who make a profit from this industry, which is largely illegal and connected to crime,

H.   whereas legitimisation of the exploitation of the sex industry, as a key economic sector for poor countries, seeks to gloss over the fact that the industry involves sexual abuse, violence, deprivation of liberty, disease and the permanent destruction of millions of women,

I.   aware that Article 6 of the CEDAW lays down that States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women,

J.   whereas the integrity of the human body implies the right of human beings to have control of their own bodies and to be protected against coercion and violence,

K.   whereas Article 6 of the CEDAW focuses on the suppression of the exploitation of women but not on combating prostitution as such,

L.   emphasising the importance of drawing a clear distinction between trafficking in human beings as a violation of human rights and prostitution as such, in accordance with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons which focuses on coercion, abuse and deceit as the central elements of trafficking, recognising the existence of both coerced and non-coerced participation of adults in the sex industry, and leaving it to the discretion of individual states to decide how to address adult prostitution in their domestic laws,

M.   emphasising the need for a human rights approach so as to ensure that measures in the field of trafficking and prostitution are consistent with the protection of human rights and do not create or exacerbate situations that cause or contribute to trafficking or related abuses by instituting policies and practices that further undermine, adversely affect or endanger the already precariously held rights of individuals working in prostitution or that might add to the stigmatisation or marginalisation of the groups involved,

N.   recognises that the prostiution laws lies within the competence of the EU Member States,

O.   taking into account the vast extent of this growing industry, in which 4 million people, particularly women and girls, work in poor conditions without adequate protection, in particular as a result of the globalisation of the economy and the worldwide exchanges of information and services, and whereas this industry has an annual turnover of between approximately 5 and 7 billion US dollars, which is higher than the world military expenditure,

1.   Deplores the fact that not all EU Member States and accession countries have ratified and implemented the international conventions aiming, firstly, at combating trafficking in human beings, and, secondly, at preventing all sexual exploitation of human beings and safeguarding human dignity or the international conventions for the protection of migrant workers and insists on the necessity for all relevant measures to be taken without further delay, both in Member States and the accession countries and at European Union level;

2.Deems it essential for the Commission and Council to take the lead in the development of targeted activities with a view to the implementation of the Brussels Declaration - at both European and international level - and calls on the Commission to publish an annual report on the progress achieved;

3.   Emphasises the need for a human rights approach so as to ensure that measures in the field of trafficking and prostitution are consistent with the protection of human rights and do not create or exacerbate situations that cause or contribute to trafficking or related abuses, condemns policies and practices that further undermine or endanger the already precariously held rights of individuals working in prostitution and condemns policies and practices that might add to the stigmatisation or marginalisation of the groups involved;

4.   Calls on the Commission as a matter of urgency to consider updating the existing Directives in order to provide better protection for European citizens against unsolicited material;

5.   Calls on the Commission to present as soon as possible new legislative instruments which protect individuals against unsolicited electronic messages of whatever kind and, in cooperation with the relevant industry, to devise the requisite technical measures;

6.   Considers it cause for concern and is deeply preoccupied that unwanted advertising on the Internet (junk mail or spam) is growing; notes that this has now become a means of propagating pornography and promoting prostitution; notes that in many cases it involves the marketing and sale of sex-related products and services; therefore calls on the Commission to review existing legislation in the field and to propose legislation with a view in particular to combating child pornography and child prostitution on the Internet; encourages Member States to promote the introduction of voluntary codes of conduct for the marketing and sale of products on the Internet;

7.   Believes, in view of the active involvement of the sex industry in the European markets and the high turnover generated in some cases, that it should be considered prohibited for entities profiting from the provision of sexual services to be quoted on the stock exchange in any EU Member State and calls on the Commission to ensure that this prohibition is enforced and actively implemented;

8.   Calls on the Commission, in consultation with the Member States, to devise a system whereby the profits from illegal activities involving trafficking in human beings and enforced prostitution are not put into the legal economy, emphasises that stricter measures must be taken to combat the laundering of money obtained illegally and notes, in this connection, that a number of new Member States have not yet taken adequate measures to ensure this;

9.   Is aware of the significant ideological and conceptual disparities which exist in the debate about prostitution and urges that all the various opinions be heard; takes the view that, in particular, the views of the women involved should be heard in the debate; takes the view, further, that, when grants are being awarded to NGOs and when expert groups are being constituted with a view to improving the quality of the debate, care must be taken to ensure that the work of the NGOs and expert groups is carried out in a manner which is as transparent as possible;

10.   Emphasises the importance of a multidisciplinary approach by and pluralism in the NGOs financed by the European Union and among the members of the expert groups constituted to support the European Commission with a view to ensuring the quality of the debates in and the proposals of the European institutions;

11.   Calls on the Commission to release the appropriations required to combat trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation and to support international cooperation between police forces, legal services and the transfrontier activities of NGOs;

12.   Underlines the importance for the expert group on trafficking[31] to focus mainly on the 2002 IOM Brussels Declaration, in which human rights are paramount and attention is paid to prevention, detection and prosecution as a means of caring for and assisting victims and is based on the principles and guidelines on human rights and human trafficking as drawn up by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002);

13.   Emphasises that national and European legislation and equal opportunities policies must protect and strengthen the welfare and legal position of women and children;

14.   Believes that ongoing studies should be undertaken at EU level into the scale of human trafficking and the accompanying sexual exploitation, as well as into the profits made therefrom, in order to determine which measures would be most appropriate in order to combat these illegal practices and afford adequate protection to (potential) victims and prosecute the perpetrators;

15.   Refers to its resolution on the follow-up to the Beijing Action Platform;

16.   Calls on the Member-States, in the fight against trafficking and sexual exploitation, that all children and young citizens are entitled to get an unbiased, religion free guidance and education concerning their own process to sexual maturity both biologically and emotionally to avoid the ignorance that causes violation of the right to protect their own body and integrity;

17.   Asks the Member States to introduce ethical codes so as to combat the use of advertisements which promote in particular illegal and/or enforced prostitution;

18.   Condemns sexist advertising and asks the Member States to propose a code to prevent these phenomena and calls on consumers' associations to influence consumer conduct by disseminating information about the undertakings involved;

19.   Calls on the European Commission to propose at the earliest possible date a directive on equal treatment for women and men in the field of the media, advertising and education, as initially provided for in its proposal for a directive on the principle of equal treatment for women and men;

20.   Draws attention to the disastrous effects of sex tourism, which affects in particular children and young girls, in the countries where it is practised, and asks the Commission and Member States to work actively to combat sex tourism, particularly child sex tourism, by promoting preventive measures such as information campaigns in cooperation with the tourist industry within the EU and providing financial support to organisations working in the countries where the sex industry is extensive;

21.   Strongly opposes the offering of unsolicited sexual services and pornographic images in hotels and calls on the Commission, in consultation with the sector involved, to agree on a corresponding Code of Conduct;

22.   Notes the expansion of the electronic communications sector and the opportunities that this could offer for unsolicited content, pornographic advertising, in particular to the detriment of children, and the promotion of prostitution; notes with satisfaction the growing number of companies that are taking steps to develop a code of conduct for the mobile communications industry with a view to preventing unsolicited content; believes, that it is necessary for measures to be taken to draw up codes of conduct in connection with the use of such technology in the forthcoming revision of the EU legislation in this fieldwith the aim of ensuring that the individual always has the right and opportunity to protect himself against anything which is unwanted;

23.   Encourages the Commission and Member States to find better and more effective methods of gaining an overview of what is on offer on the Internet so as to be able to prevent illegal practices such as the distribution and sale of child pornography; stresses the importance of cooperation between the EU and third countries in order effectively to combat illegal activity on the Internet, as the Internet is a global medium of communication;

24.   Notes also the expansion of pornography and prostitution advertising and encourages the Commission and Member States to find better and more effective methods of gaining an overview of what is on offer on the Internet so as to be able to prevent illegal practices such as the distribution and sale of child pornography; stresses the importance of cooperation between the EU and third countries in order effectively to combat illegal activity on the Internet, as the Internet is a global medium of communication;

25.   Recognises that the position and conditions of individuals working in the sex industry may vary widely and that it is necessary to develop different policies depending on the situation and needs of the various groups;

26.   Emphasises the importance of implementing programmes to combat poverty and further marginalisation in the European Union and in all the countries of origin as instruments for the prevention of the sexual exploitation of human beings;

27.   Calls for the implementation of programmes and services to help sex workers in the fields of physical and mental health, welfare, education and vocational training;

28.   Emphasises that the measures should aim at the empowerment of the women concerned and that EU trafficking initiatives which exacerbate the marginalisation of women working in prostitution, and, in particular, female migrants, by pushing them into illegal situations, should be deplored;

29.   Calls on the European Parliament to approve as soon as possible Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA of 22 December 2003 on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;

30.   Requests that combating trafficking in human beings and enforced prostitution should be the focus of an active and effective campaign, in the framework of existing EU programmes in this field, to be launched by the Commission and the Member States with the full support of the European Parliament as well as all other European institutions in their respective fields of competence;

31.   Calls for a European programme to be established in order to make clients aware that a large number of females engaged in prostitution have been forced into it and live in miserable and inhuman conditions, with clients also being made aware of their role as client and informed about the way in which they can help to combat this problem;

32.   Points out that, pursuant to Rule 161 of its Rules of Procedure, responsibility for the attached explanatory statement lies exclusively with the rapporteur and does not reflect the opinion of the committee responsible;

33.   Notes that the participation of the groups involved and the inclusion of their views in debates concerning their situation is an essential element of a human rights approach;

34.   Considers it necessary for Member States to cooperate across borders to combat the cross-border problems relating to the sex industry, such as trafficking in women and children who are imported into Europe with the aim of exploiting them in the sex industry; considers it important jointly to find effective solutions to prevent marketing and sale of illegal sexual services and products on the Internet;

35.   Urges the Member States to improve the position of victims of trafficking in human beings and prostitution and to ensure that they have access to assistance and care and, if they are unable to return to their country of origin, that they are granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, irrespective of whether they are prepared or able to make statements or take the stand as witnesses;

36.   Recommends to the Member States that they appoint National Rapporteurs on Trafficking in Human Beings and support their activities, collate the information that these rapporteurs collect at EU level and encourage the exchange of information and best practice;

37.   Calls on the Commission to publish a report in 2006 on the implementation of this resolution;

38.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the UN and the Council of Europe.

  • [1] http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html.
  • [2] http://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2001/index.htm
  • [3] http://www.uncjin.org/Documents/Conventions/dcatoc/final_documents_2/convention_eng.pdf
  • [4] http://www.wclac.org/un/un3.htm
  • [5] http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/declar.htm
  • [6] OJ C 166, 3.7.1995.
  • [7] http://cm.coe.int/ta/rec/2000/2000r11.htm.
  • [8] http://cm.coe.int/stat/E/Public/2002/adopted_texts/recommendations/2002r5.htm.
  • [9] http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/AdoptedText/TA02/EREC1545.htm.
  • [10] OJ C 59, 23.2.2001.
  • [11] http://www.iom.int/en/PDF_Files/other/Balkan_strategy.pdf.
  • [12] http://www.stabilitypact.org/trafficking/default.asp.
  • [13] OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p. 1.
  • [14] OJ C 260, 29.10.2003, p. 4.
  • [15] OJ C 219, 30.7.1999, p.68
  • [16] OJ C 219, 30.7.1999, p. 497
  • [17] OJ C 80, 16.3.1998, p. 17
  • [18] OJ 150, 28.5.1999, p. 203
  • [19] OJ C 167, 1.6.1998, p. 80
  • [20] OJ C 14, 19.1.1998, p. 19
  • [21] OJ C 358, 24.11.1997, p. 37
  • [22] OJ C 304, 6.10.1997, p. 55
  • [23] OJ C 339, 10.11.1997, p. 420
  • [24] OJ C 150, 19.5.1997, p. 38
  • [25] OJ C 53 E, 28.2.2002, p. 121
  • [26] OJ C 59, 23.2.2001, p. 307
  • [27] OJ C 67, 1.3.2001, p. 304
  • [28] OJ C 40, 7.2.2001, p. 47
  • [29] OJ C 378, 29.12.2000, p. 80
  • [30] OJ C 53 E, 28.2.2002, p. 114
  • [31] http://europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home/fsj/crime/trafficking/fsj_crime_human_trafficking_en.htm

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In 600 BC, Solon enacted laws in Athens 'for the protection of state and family'. Free men were given full sexual freedom both before and during marriage while strict chastity was required of Athenian women, with absolute fidelity to their husbands during marriage. A special police force was set up to enforce compliance. Female slaves, prisoners-of-war, or bought women without families and women from other states were used for prostitution. They were divided into different classes, guarded by special overseers and their income taxed. Prostitution was regarded as a profession.

But, prostitution can never be reduced to a choice of profession. It is a question of men's power in society and control over women's sexuality. That power and control has shifted over thousands of years but has essentially never changed. It is against this backdrop that we can follow the current debate in the EU on the sex slave trade and an increasingly aggressive marketing of the female body in pornography and in advertising.

Measures of various kinds have been adopted and begun to be implemented to alert and protect women but forceful measures to combat demand have still hardly seen the light of day. The rapporteur is convinced that positive changes will not be achieved unless this happens and it is her intention with this report to illuminate an active part of the demand side - the sex industry. Another party responsible for the demand is the customer/consumer - men.

Definition of the sex industry: activities which legally or illegally market and/or sell sexual services/products in organised form and which make profits from sexual exploitation of people - children, women and men.[1]

This exploitation includes organised prostitution - for example escort services, call girls, operation of brothels, street prostitution, internet prostitution, massage parlours, strip clubs, telephone sex, marriage bureaus, sex tourism, pornography, and sex fairs.

Of the main players on the sex market, the focus is on the seller (a woman) while the buyer (a man) is usually completely anonymous. The sex market also contains profiteers,

-   such as those who make available various interfaces where the immediate parties to the sex trade can meet and negotiate,

-   make available premises where sexual intercourse can take place between parties,

-   make available advertising space to the parties to the sex trade in newspapers, magazines and other printed matter,

-   transport the parties to the sex trade,

-   illegally sell alcohol and drugs to prostitutes, thereby helping to keep them in prostitution,

-   otherwise arrange contacts between parties to the sex trade,

-   manufacture, distribute, sell and advertise newspapers, magazines, books, and films in which ideas and images which may promote the sex trade directly abound, such as pimps, sex club owners, hotel and restaurant owners, newspaper publishers, contact club owners, transporters, slave traders, alcohol and drug dealers and the sex industry[2].

To these may be added gateway owners, owners of sex sites, the pornography industry, escort agencies, internet pimps, goods and service providers, and organisations with financial interests.[3]

Globalisation of the economy also means globalisation of the sex slave trade and the sex industry. It is estimated that the illegal sex industry turns over more money per year than the total of all military budgets in the world ($ 5000 - 7000 billion). The UN estimates that some 4 million individuals, principally girls and women, are transported annually within and between countries for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

In recent years, several of the EU Member States have capitulated and, instead of fighting against such exploitation of human beings, have accepted the prevailing situation and, through legalisation and regulation of prostitution, have helped to make what was previously a criminal activity part of the legal economic sector. The Member State then becomes part of the sex industry, yet another profiteer on the market.

Many decision-makers believe that this would reduce the stigmatisation of exploited people, that by taking these measures prostitution and sexual exploitation would decrease, but all the indications are to the contrary. At the same time as some exploitation becomes legal and above board, the phenomenon increases and the illegal activities also increase in scope. The only thing achieved by legalisation and regulation is that, in society at large, acceptance of sexual exploitation has increased.

In 1996, it was noted that some 500 000 people were illegally brought into the EU Member States annually. The majority of these, close on 90%, are brought in for sexual exploitation. The EU is currently working on two framework laws against trafficking in human beings. One which has criminalised the entire chain of trade - with the exception of the client - and one which offers victims of crime the possibility of a temporary residence permit inasmuch as and for the period of time they agree to testify against their abductors.

In an additional protocol to the Convention on International Organised Crime, the UN has provided the opportunity for international cooperation through national legislation.[4]

Pornography derives from the Greek ‘porno’ and ‘graphos’, ‘female prisoner’ to ‘write about’ or ‘description of’. In the present day, the term is often used as a description of ‘a human being’s erotic life’ in words and images.[5]

The production of pornography is now a multibillion activity which exists worldwide and in many different forms. It is a well-known fact that this part of the industry has been one of the most powerful forces in the development of the Internet because of the porn-consumer's demands for discretion and security when paying for material. The most frequently used search words are related to sex and pornography.

Pornography is often sexist, with stereotyped gender roles and a conservative, not to mention completely erroneous view of women’s and men’s sexuality. Ethnic degradation is also common, sometimes the content is outright racist. Linking power and repression with sexuality is an effective way of reminding us of who has the power.

70% of the £252 million that European Internet users spent on the net during 2001 went to various porn sites.[6]

On the Internet images and video clips can be found both free of charge and for payment.

The porn companies produce everything from ordinary films and magazines to interactive DVDs and CD‑Roms.

As a surfer on the Net it is possible to feel completely anonymous and pretend that you are someone else. This is why many users who are interested in paedophilia enter certain chatrooms for children and young people in order to get in touch personally at a subsequent time. This is where ‘employment agencies’ can also be found.

The Internet is also an excellent outlet for images, the distribution of which is banned in most countries. The accessibility of ‘kinky sex’ has rocketed. A sharp increase in violent pornography has been noted, such as:

-   fist-fucking

-   torture scenes (people who are tied up are whipped and tortured in various ways),

-   rapes (often claimed to be authentic),

-   child pornography (various forms of sexual assaults on children),

-   necrophilia and bestiality (images of deceased persons in a sexual context),

-   murder and dissection of bodies (placed in a sexual context),

-   war-related accidents (presented on sex pages),

-   animal pornography (images of sexual acts between humans and animals),

-   excrement (images of defecation and urination in a sexual context),

-   foetuses (images of damaged and dead foetuses presented in a sexual context)[7]

There are new sites which aim to ‘mainstream’ pornography, where porn is presented as something smart and amusing, for well-educated, trendy men.

The Municipality of Stockholm[8] and one of the EU’s information offices’ previous home pages[9] are two examples of domain names taken over by pornographic companies. Instead of finding the information sought, the user is taken into the world of pornography.

‘Spam’ with advertisements for prostitution and pornography inundate us via email, which - it has proved - entails a considerable loss of production for companies.

Companies active in the porn industry are now also attempting to capture market shares by selling their products via the mobile phone network. 3G is a new technology which makes it possible to send and receive images via mobile telephones. For many mobile telephony operators, however, the 3G networks and licences for them have become a costly business and the majority of European operators are therefore seeking to finance their activities by providing pornographic material by means of agreements with porn producers. One example is Vodaphone UK, the second largest mobile operator in the world, which is introducing pornography from the end of 2003. Others are Hutchinson 3G (better known as 3) Virgin and One World Telecom. The porn producers are Private Media Group, Playboy, Mayfair, Escort, MenOnly, Club International and Mens World.

Corporate Analysts Visiongain estimates a turnover of $4 billion per year by 2006. The porn distributors calculate that mobility will increase impulse buying.[10]

Private Media Group Inc (Swedish) and Beate Uhse AG (German) are two large porn companies which have established themselves on the Nasdaq and Frankfurt stock exchanges. A large shareholder in Beate Uhse is Consipio Holding, which is also a lender to Private Media. Consipio Holding is owned by Gerard Cok, according to Dutch media one of the richest businessmen in Holland with a background in property and previously a national porn producer.

The Daily Planet, a brothel located in Melbourne, is quoted on the Australian stock exchange and in 1991 received the Victorian Tourism Award.

A Norwegian survey from 2001 shows that between two to three hundred women in Norway are in the telephone sex industry. The person responsible for the porn industry's sales promotion fair, 'Sexhibition', is the head of operations. The telesex market in Norway has a turnover of approximately 200 million Norwegian kroner per year.

It is more the rule than the exception that hotels in the EU's Member States provide pay-TV channels which show pornographic films. Pay channels supplied to homes operate in a similar manner. The subscriber orders a 'family package' which includes porn. In order to protect children - as it is called - there is normally an option of coding the programmes.

TV companies exploit the different national laws which they play off against each other. They usually broadcast porn late in the evening and during the night.

In soft porn it is usually one person who poses in a sensual or erotic way; there are sexual codes and associations. That image is often found in advertising and has an accepted status. It embodies the sexualisation of consumption while harder pornography embodies the consumption of sexuality. The media's categorisation of the audience primarily as sexual beings has an increasingly significant bearing on the content and its target audience. Through erotic titillation, images of women sell newspapers as well as goods to other women.[11]

TV companies produce and broadcast programmes which deal superficially with pornography and glamourise prostitution, and are sometimes produced by pornography producers themselves. This obviously enhances the legitimacy of pornography in that it becomes 'entertainment'.

The most common age at which young people begin to explore their own sexuality and that of their immediate environment seems to be 12. It is difficult for young people and their parents to discuss sexual and relationship issues in a natural way and the same applies to sex education in schools, which therefore concentrates on the biological. Young people growing up are abandoned to commercial forces in the search for their sexuality. Just as advertising is intended to influence the environment, so the sex industry's products influence both young people and adults.

The EU has various programmes in which NGOs and other players can apply for funds to promote or combat various phenomena in society. In an investigation into the HIV/AIDS programmes, it emerged that organisations taking part in these programmes and receiving considerable financial amounts often used the funds actively to campaign for the legalisation and regulation of prostitution in and outside the Member States.[12]

In conversations with Commission officials, it emerged that no checks are carried out on the organisations' background and policy by appointing groups of experts and similar. Neither is there any account of which organisations are represented, which is astounding. In view of the way in which organised crime operates, it is therefore possible that the Commission, the initiator of common legislation, is being advised by representatives of criminal organisations!

In Sweden in 1998, when the proportion of women in the legislative assembly had reached 43%, a legislative package entitle 'kvinnofrid' ('leave women alone') was adopted, which criminalises/or deals more severely with acts already classified as offences, such as

-   assault on women

-   rape

-   sexual mutilation

-   sexual harassment

-   the purchase and attempt to purchase sexual services.

For the first time, this legislation puts prostituted women on the same footing as 'other women'. A tradition dating back thousands of years has - hopefully - been broken.

  • [1] Main source: D Hughes, Rhode Island University.
  • [2] SA Månsson, Göteborgs universitet.
  • [3] Peter Söderlind, RFSU, 2003
  • [4] http://www.uncjin.org/Documents/Conventions/dcatoc/final_documents_2/convention_eng.pdf.
  • [5] C Heuman, Lund University, May 1999.
  • [6] SA Månsson et al. 2001.
  • [7] RT Bjornbeck & tA Ejven, Norweigian Police Acadamy 97/98.
  • [8] www.stockholm.com.
  • [9] www.eicwallons.com
  • [10] http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,7496,767438,00.html,031112.
  • [11] Conference paper 'Sexual power in Scandinavia', Oslo 2003.
  • [12] Wennberg report, 2002.