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#WhosNext- International conference : The only strategy against prostitution: the Nordic model

In the framework of the 61st session of the Commission on the situation of women (CSW) in New-York, the Fondation Scelles organized a conference on the strategies to combat the prostitution system, with its international partners. With a numerous audience, the presence of the Minister for Families, Childhood and Women’s Rights, outstanding contributors, the magnificent setting of the general Consulate in New-York, everything turned this meeting into a strong moment of exchanges and speech for the cause.


Conférence Fondation Scelles New York 


The Minister Laurence Rossignol, Rachel Moran, the founding female head of SPACE International and author of the testimony «Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution», Taina Bien-Aimé, the female director of the international Coalition against women’s trade (CATW) and Yves Charpenel, the Fondation Scelles president and first general attorney at the Court of cassation, confronted simultaneously international views on strategies to fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation. A common vision arose from the debate: in Europe as well as on the American continent, sexual exploitation is a dangerous form of violence, against which only the Nordic model that forbids the purchase of sexual acts can bring an effective address.


Current assessment: Violence and Organized Crime

The exchanges, in the journalist Mary Snow‘s moderating presence, resulted in a triple observation.


Conférence Fondation Scelles New York


1- Sexual exploitation is a form of violence and a gender-related one. Violence occurs at all levels of prostitution and is relevant to the prostitution act itself: “ To be repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual acts is a physical burglary akin to rape ” (L. Rossignol)


2- “ Sexual exploitation is essentially a marketplace where the human body is seen as a commodity, and this market is subject to the normal laws of supply and demand ” (Y.Charpenel). This market lays in the hands of a transnational system of organized crime which is in search of an ever increasing profit to the detriment of dignity and safety of exploited individuals who are mainly women and children.


3- Laws and international conventions do exist but they hardly contain the increasing phenomenon: “ We all agree that current responses provided by States and civil societies worldwide have not been adequate enough to reduce the threat against the rights of those most vulnerable ” (Y.Charpenel).


Which obstacles and which brakes?

Taina Bien-Aimé wondered: “What is holding us back? (…) Prostitution is one of the most brutal forms of male-perpetrated sexual abuse and violence, but it is still not perceived as such in our society ”. Maybe because they affect mostly women in precarious and vulnerable situations.


Conférence Fondation Scelles New York


On the opposite, so as to have the unacceptable accepted, some present “  fictional narratives that some people are using as they try to make us accept the unacceptable by presenting prostitution as a “job”, a business relation between freely consenting adults, or liberated sexuality, sometimes even as a form of empowerment in a patriarchal world ”.

Taina Bien-Aimé denounced: “Prostitution is  not more of a choice for women and girls than is female genital mutilation, child marraige, polygamy, widow-burning, or any human rights violation that happens to women because they were born female


What strategies ?

In the face of this situation, only a global approach may allow a real advance.


In concrete terms, it means:


- to involve the whole society in this combat: governments, civil society, ONGs, the medical world, trade-unions, men, young people… and the very active group of the prostitution survivors who, like Rachel Moran, come to enrich the debate with their testimony.


- to highlight the client’s part in this market. Nothing will be achieved in the absence of a demand -deterring policy.


- to adopt the legislative model which was initiated by Sweden and called “Nordic model”. It takes into account all the prostitution actors: the prostituted person, the procurer and the trafficker, the client. It is what France has just chosen to do by voting the April 13th 2016: “The enactment of such an abolitionist law represents a historical moment and, within the French society, it has truly changed the way prostitution is perceived because this law treats the issue of prostitution in a comprehensive way: harsher repressive measures against pimps, added support for victims of prostitution, pimping and human trafficking for any sexual exploitation purposes, prevention campaigns specifically targeting the youth and public opinion, and finally, prohibition of any sexual act purchasing”. Beside France, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland and, very recently, the Irish Republic, forbid the purchase of a sexual act.


>> To know more:

France’s Prostitution Law? #8 Key Points

Discussion on Strategies to Address Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

 Discussion on strategies to address


Hope as a conclusion

Taina Bien Aimé concluded: “We must transform that hope into action, without which equality and a just society will never be realized”. The reasons to hope are not missing. Different forms of violence towards women, which were admitted for a long time, are now considered as unacceptable crimes and a violation of human rights, such as domestic abuses, excision…It is now prostitution’s turn. 


>> To know more :

Discussion on Strategies to Address Prostitution & Sex Trafficking



The Scelles Foundation Awards in New York

Some of the works carried out by the students of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Louis-Lumière during the 3rd Scelles Foundation Awards in 2016 were exhibited at the Consulate General of France.


Prix Fondation Scelles



tweets by Fond_Scelles

The Scelles Foundation in the press

  • (ES - Milenio) El ser humano no está a la venta
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