Sex workers’ safety still ignored by Brussels government, workers collective says

Sex workers’ safety still ignored by Brussels government, workers collective says
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The rights and safety of sex-workers in Brussels were overlooked by the new coalition government and their proposed measures are “insufficient” despite repeated calls for increased protection, a group fighting for the rights of sex workers said on Thursday.

“We wanted to be involved in the decisions made about us,” Maxime Maes of sex workers collective Utsopi said, according to Bruzz. “Not only has the new government barely taken our proposals into account — they didn’t even reach out to us,” she added.

Maes called out the new government of the Brussels-Capital Region for overlooking insistent calls to create a status for sex workers in the region, which would improve their working conditions and increase their safety.

“We know the problems of sex workers better than anybody else,” Maes said, adding that a statute for sex workers would open the door to social and legal recognition — and the protection that comes with it.

The collective’s criticism comes after the community was rocked by a series of murders, including that of a Brussels sex worker, which prompted widespread condemnation and calls for change for the situation of industry workers in Brussels.

But the association, which campaigns for better conditions for people making a living in the sex industry, felt unheard by the incoming government, despite drafting a ten-point memorandum, which was “barely” taken into account.

The policy concerning sex workers is summed up in two paragraphs in the 130-page-long coalition agreement, according to Bruzz, a fact the collective sees as a perceived lack of attention from the incoming regional leaders.

The agreement laid the grounds for the 19 municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region to address the problems of sex workers in a unified manner, breaking with a previous approach which saw them interpret federal laws on prostitution and the sex industry individually.

Additionally, it contained provisions which would help people forced to work in the sex industry to leave it behind “safely,” according to the outlet.

“The situation is serious — the violence has incredible proportions,” she added. “Women and men fear for their lives, deaths have already occurred. The government’s measures are far from sufficient,” Maes said.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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