They say the report, by Marianne Eriksson, opens a new debate on the sex industry and its consequences for women, gender equality and gender violence.

At a Public Hearing, which took place at the European Parliament on January 19, Marianne Eriksson presented her report and outlined how vast, active and lucrative the industry is, with the profit on the exploitation of women’s bodies , estimated at between 5 and 7 billions of dollars yearly. Janice Raymond, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), and one of the invited speakers at the public hearing, stressed the danger posed by the “normalisation” of the sex industry, which is increasingly being promoted as
a legitimate business activity where those that invest in the industry can expect to make good profits. The sex industry is therefore able to hide behind this renaming of what is in fact a range of different activities based on the exploitation and degradation of women, the violation of women’s human rights and often on violence and trafficking in women and children.

The report highlights the link between trafficking in women for sexual exploitation and an increasingly aggressive marketing of the female body in pornography, in advertising and through the “new insidious invasion” of unwanted porn messages and images through emails as well as through SMS messages on mobile phones. In her recommendations, Eriksson calls on the EU to adopt measures and legislation in order to stop the expansion and damage
that this industry is causing: a continued increase in trafficking as the industry always need new bodies to feed its expansion, a sharp increase in violent pornography is also evident, especially on “special” new internet sites, and an increase in child prostitution as well as pornography which targets younger people. The report did create a lively debate, mostly
focusing on prostitution and it was noted the worrying trend to separate the policy areas between trafficking and prostitution, including at EU level. In an interview reported by Reuters, the Irish Minister of state of the Department of Justice announced that prostitution will have to be considered during the Irish Presidency and that the Irish government could consider
proposing a ban on paying for sex. The EWL welcomes this proposal and will closely monitor the development of the Presidency’s policy as well as the progress of the Eriksson’s report (amendments will be proposed at the next Women’s Rights Committee on 18-19 February 2004­ deadline to submit amendments is the 2nd of February).