In response to MEP Honeyball's suggestion that 560 NGOs are "pimps"

On 24 of February, MEP Honeyball emailed MEPs suggesting "that these (450 organisations at the time) are in fact organisations comprised of pimps etc"

Here is our ICRSE's answer

Response of MEP Honeyball to 560 organisations who oppose criminalisation of clients: "they are comprised of pimps".

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

This morning you received a communication by Ms Honeyball.

In this email, Ms Honeyball suggests that the 560 organisations who oppose her report and the criminalisation of clients “are in fact organisations comprised of pimps etc...”

We consider it a lack of dignity to disqualify the voices of those who do not share her ideology by denouncing them as “pimps”.  If the  report had been based on evidence and the experience of all those who directly work with sex workers and victims of trafficking instead of on her personal ideology, she would not have needed to take refuge to this unworthy accusation against hundreds of organisations, academics and other professionals  - for the sole fact that they disagree with her views. It only underlines the core of our message: “Ideology: no. Evidence: yes”

We are also shocked. We had never expected that – by lack of arguments - a representative of the European Parliament would lower herself to attack the integrity, the professionalism and the good name of such an extensive representation of civil society in Europe.

Amongst the signatories, you will find:

·         La Strada International, a major European network of anti-trafficking organisations  and the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW), an alliance of more than 100 non-                              governmental organisations from Africa, Asia, Europe, LAC and North America. From the statement of La Strada International, signed by GAATW:  

The partners of the LSI NGO Platform have supported many women and men who were trafficked in the sex industry in the past nearly two decades. (..) Criminalisation stigmatises and  marginalises both domestic and migrant sex workers and it deprives them of the tools to protect themselves from violence and seek redress. It drives the sex industry even more underground,  which results in less access to health, social and legal assistance for sex workers, and significantly lower chances to identify individuals who have been trafficked."

·         Many women’s rights organisations like Planned Parenthood Federation Europe and the German Women’s Council, which represents 50 organisations in Germany

·         HIV organisations, like Aids Action Europe and the European Aids Treatment Group.

·         Social exclusion networks, like Correlations, and hundreds of service providers who work every day with some of the most vulnerable and stigmatised members of our communities: homeless, street –based sex workers, drug users, people living with HIV, undocumented migrants.…

Finally, the letter is signed by sex workers-led organisations which represent the voices and experiences of sex workers themselves. The very persons Ms. Honeyball pretends would “benefit” from her proposals and to whom she pretends to have listened when drafting her report.

The list of 560 NGOs and civil society organisations makes clear that many professionals who know the reality on the ground are opposed to this report.  Criminalisation, either of the seller of sexual services or the buyer only serves to increase the vulnerability of sex workers and further exposes them to abuse.

As an elected representative of the people, Ms Honeyball should welcome the involvement of such a large number of Civil Society Organisations in the debate. This is a fundamental principle of our democratic societies.

The lack of credibility is on Ms Honeyball’s side. Remarkably she forgets to mention that 70 academics have signed a counter-report demonstrating the complete lack of evidence behind her report. She includes a letter from a global network of researchers but the letter fails to provide evidence about the actual impact of the Swedish Model.  It just re-iterates the ideological position that “prostitution should be abolished”, without looking at the negative consequences of the criminalisation of clients, including loss of income, increased vulnerability to HIV and stigmatisation.

We urge MEPs to support the Alternative Resolution brought forward by Ms Yannakoudakis (read her open letter to Ms Honeyball here.)


The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe – network of 59 organisations in 28 countries in Europe and Central Asia and the 560 signatories of the letter attached.


Resource section: 
Sex Work Advocacy Resources

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