Belgium decriminalizes prostitution

Belgium decriminalizes prostitution


They would be 3,000 in Belgium according to more or less official estimates, seven or eight times more according to field studies: occasional or regular, sex workers (TDS) are, in any case, experiencing a revolution since 1er June. A law passed by MPs in March and came into force on Wednesday allows them to get out of illegality, see their activity decriminalized and enjoy rights in terms of status, social protection, health, etc.

These provisions, wanted by the Federal Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, a Flemish Liberal, make Belgium the first European state to adopt such measures, and the second in the world after New Zealand. In the future, prostitutes (95% of women) will have the same rights as other self-employed workers, including the right to social security, unemployment, access to care, maternity leave, etc. And besides, “All third parties who support their business may no longer be prosecuted, except in the case of abnormal profits.” points out the Utsopi association, which has been campaigning for their rights since 2015.

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Until now, a banker, an accountant, an insurer, a legal adviser, or even a web designer who was supposed to have helped a prostitute could, in fact, be considered the perpetrators of a crime. Just like the owners of a home that hosted its business. In the future, they will no longer fall under the law unless they make excessive profits by claiming – as is often the case – higher-than-normal rents. “This is the end of the law of the jungle,” rejoices Daan Bauwens, director of Utsopi.

“Workers should no longer be stigmatized”

Giving status to free prostitution, considering it a job with rights and duties, is the best way to combat forced prostitution, Van Quickenborne said. “Women workers should no longer be stigmatized, exploited, dependent”, he argued. A minority of Parliament did not approve of its initiative, believing that by easing criminal law, it would instead facilitate the activity of human trafficking networks.

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Often described as a “blur asylum,” the kingdom deserves this qualification for the treatment it has hitherto reserved for prostitution. Governed by a law of the nineteenthe It was in fact banned and visible to all in some parts of Brussels, Antwerp or Liège. In drafting their own regulations, cities and municipalities had, in time, established their own regulations and decided to tax this allegedly prohibited activity.

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