What participants had to say about the European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration, Brussels, Belgium 2005.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to meet sexworkers from other countries even out of Europe, and that was so interesting, i've been learning so much...Even if we sometimes had some "conflicts" here and there, i really felt a union on these days, and it is so motivating." (sex worker, France)
"I found it a must for all people working on trafficking. We only see one side of the picture and spend half our time also having to do business with the abolitionists. It was therefore a real education and the lessons learnt are already being put to good use!" (Shivaun Scanlan Senior Adviser on Anti-Trafficking Issues Human Rights Department OSCE/ODIHR)
"I want to stress that this conference has been about Celebration, it has been about Connection and it has been about Challenge. I certainly felt that this conference celebrated sex workers and our work, our labour. Its given us value and I hope that it has empowered many of us to fight the fight even more strongly from now on. I certainly think that we have made connections and I think they are strong and I hope that we can maintain them as strongly in the future. But I also think this conference has been quite challenging for us. We have worked incredibly hard; from the energy and the commitment that all of the participants have put in to the development of the documents to the participation in the workshops has been absolutely amazing." (Ruth Morgan-Thomas Chair ICRSE opening statement 17 Oct. in the European Parliament)
The European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration held 15 to 17 October in Brussels Belgium was a monumental achievement.
Twenty years after the Second World Whores Congres took place in the European Parliament more than 200 delegates, sex workers and allies in the fields of human, labour and migrants rights, from 30 countries, came together to make their demands known and to present the newly drafted and endorsed Declaration on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe and the Sex Workers in Europe Manifesto.
The idea of this conference came about in response to increasing repressive legislative policies and and state practices against sex workers across Europe. Participants came together to share experieinces about working in the sex industry and to build alliances across language, borders and between sex workers and allies. We aimed develop tools that would actually serve a purpose in defending our rights. Prior to the conference and finalised at the conference were the Declaration of the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe , based on the human rights international treaties that our governments have committed themselves to for everyone within their states and the Sex Workers in Europe Manifesto which sets out what we want in our societies and our communities.
This conference was always considered a starting point for an on-going process to create a network across Europe, which could map the effects of repressive migration, prostitution and trafficking policies on sex workers in Europe and lobby for the rights of sex workers to effect positive change. The connections made at the conference laid the foundations for a stronger network of sex workers and allies in Europe (the network).