“The confusion some people make between sex work and human trafficking is only making working conditions increasingly deplorable for men and women who do sex work freely,” the UTSOPI collective, which defends the rights of sex workers, said on Monday. The statement by UTSOPI – the Union of Sexworkers Organized for Independence – came in reaction to weekend articles in the Flemish press on an influx of Nigerian women in prostitution in Belgium.
The Flemish press reported the Federal Police as stating that more and more under-aged girls, often from Nigeria, are forced to work for as little as five euros a trick, “a situation that is more than distressing and revolting for our collective, which defends decent living conditions for all sex workers,” UTSOPI stressed.
The confusion between sex work and human trafficking drives the victims of trafficking underground, says the group, which has accused St.-Josse Mayor Emir Kir of creating “a non-law zone where the exploitation of sex workers can take place in broad daylight, something no municipal or regional authority seems to really worry about.”
“The Brussels-Capital Region, both in St.-Josse and Brussels City, with Mayor Philippe Close, is becoming the scene of real ‘prostitute hunting’ with very clear aims of gentrification and real estate speculation, all camouflaged by the so-called fight against human trafficking,” UTSOPI charged.
“All the measures implemented so far are mainly repressive and only increase the clandestinity and precarity of sex workers,” it added.