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Verbatim report of proceedings
Thursday, 18 May 2000 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Trafficking in women

  Turco (TDI).(IT) Mr President, on behalf of the Members of the Bonino List, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her excellent report on the tragic issue of trafficking in women. We are sure that Parliament will adopt this extremely well-balanced report by a very large majority, for no one could tolerate the current violence perpetrated against women who are abducted or forced by deception and threats to enter the European Union, where they are compelled to live a life of forced prostitution or do some other sort of job under coercion.

We are all familiar with the horrific stories of prostitutes, often minors, who are abducted from their native countries, forced to enter the Union – we are told – illegally, raped and threatened with retaliation against their relatives or even killed if they have the courage to denounce their pimps. The report recommends possible solutions which have already been successfully implemented, such as issuing victims with residence permits and providing protection and free healthcare. These measures, which have already been successfully implemented in some States, must be extended to cover the whole of the European Union.

I would, however, like to draw your attention to a matter of paramount importance: is it not the direct and indirect prohibition of prostitution and the restrictive laws on immigration which are responsible for trafficking in women and forced prostitution? Is it not the case that the victims of prostitution-related crimes are compelled to enter that profession because of their illegal immigrant status and their vulnerability, caught between the violence of their pimps and the forces of the law? Is it not the very fact of prohibition which renders the phenomenon it is intended to control uncontrollable, tragic and inhuman? And why should those people who, of their own free will, want to be prostitutes have to suffer from what is essentially a ban on related activities and the subterfuge which, in practice, criminalise the practice of voluntary prostitution, even though prostitution is formally legal in many Member States? Moreover, would the legalisation of voluntary prostitution not also allow foreign prostitutes to improve their situation in that they would no longer be obliged to work illegally in violent conditions as they are now?

For this reason, we have tabled two amendments: the first amendment calls for the preparation of a cost/benefit analysis of the various laws and policies currently in place and those which may be adopted in the future; the second amendment proposes measures to protect adults from criminal exploitation and violence, adults who, in all freedom from direct or indirect coercion, choose to work as prostitutes, accepting to run their business in accordance with legal procedures.

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