Danish researchers warn against criminalising the purchase of sex

Such a move would lead to a more insecure existence for workers in the industry, they argue

Dozens of Danish researchers have protested against the EU parliament’s decision last week to recommend that EU member states criminalise the purchase of sex.

The 26 researchers, who specialise in the areas of prostitution, sex work, human trafficking and sexuality, have signed their names to a petition because they argue that criminalising the purchase of sex will lead to a more insecure existence for sex workers.

They further contend that the EU politicians are ignoring the vast research about the issue, including reports from the UN, World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch, which recommend decriminalising sex work.

“When the EU chooses to ignore the research results, then it’s down to ideological beliefs that it is morally wrong to sell one’s body,” Christian Groes Green, a researcher at Roskilde University and one of the petition's signees, told tv2.dk. “The parliament has chosen to ignore all the international research that argues against criminalising buying sex.”

READ MORE: Opinion | Inhumane and illogical treatment of us sex workers

Driven underground
Green fears that the EU parliament’s recommendation will lead to a law change on the issue, claiming that many sex workers will face greater danger and lose more rights should their trade be prohibited.

The researchers point to Sweden where the criminalisation of sex work has weakened the prostitutes’ trust in the authorities and driven them underground and made them more dependent on pimps and other criminals.

“It’s problematic that they have ignored the research and it goes against tendencies in other areas such as drug abuse, which has been decriminalised,” Green said. “Apparently, it is different with buying sex: a battle based on old-fashioned ideas and beliefs. That’s why we’ve signed this protest.”

Aside from the Danish contingency of researchers, 86 international researchers have also signed similar protest petitions.