Brussels prostitution: Alhambra’s anti-prostitution rule in limelight
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    Brussels prostitution: Alhambra’s anti-prostitution rule in limelight

    © Belga
    Local associations and a prostitute are appealing the new police rule on prostitution.
    © Belga

    The human rights league (HRL), the association Espace P (a mental health and rehabilitation centre) as well as a prostitute worker have jointly introduced, within the legal time period of 60 days, an urgent appeal to both cancel and stay on Monday. The parties presented this to the State Council. It relates to the new police rule adopted by the municipal council in June on the initiative of the alderman, Yvan Mayeur.

    This is according to information in the daily newspaper La Capitale, which was confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) by the President of the HRL, Alexis Deswaef.

    This regulation prohibits prostitutes from plying their wares in the Alhambra quarter, at risk of administrative measures. These might reach 350 euros for prostitutes and their clients.

    The previous rule was partially cancelled last April by the State Council. It, in particular, criticized the system of fines linked to prostitution control, which has not been approved at municipal level.

    Administrative sanctions increased compared to the previously fixed amounts, namely the 125 euros maximum.

    These are however detailed and clearly presented, according to the individual targeted, namely the prostitute or the client.

    “The commune may establish a regime of fines. However the police court alone has the power to impose them and not municipal civil servants,” explains the barrister Vincent Letellier, acting for LDH.

    He goes further, “Brussels City Council wishes to compensate for the absence of prosecutions on the part of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The latter cannot afford to waste its time chasing after prostitutes who are touting for business in the streets.”

    Furthermore Letellier says, “The Public Prosecutor’s Office is particularly concerned to increase networks. This necessitates establishing certain bonds of trust between federal police investigators to develop networks. With these municipal sanctions, Brussels City Council wishes to exert control over this phenomenon.”

    He concludes, “Brussels City Council’s aim is move prostitution away from its territory and in any case to clean up the Alhambra quarter. The quarter is undergoing rapid changes, under pressure from a residents’ collective, which constitutes a significant electoral breeding ground. Although historically they benefited from lower consumer prices, prostitution was the main reason for this.”

    According to Alexis Deswaef, the HRL considers that, “all regulation tending towards prohibition should in the end be avoided. That would only force prostitutes underground, weakening their rights, placing them in greater danger, as much on a health as a safety level. It is necessary to ensure that we guarantee prostitutes a core set of rights.”

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times