France and Sweden Feminist Diplomacy

Tackling human trafficking and sexual exploitation

March 13th, 2019
Hoëlenn Ayoul-Guilmard, News from Berlin
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On the International Women's Day - the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallström launched a joint diplomatic initiative for combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Europe and globally.

On this very symbolic day, as Emmanuel Macron was awarding the first Simon Veil Prize for gender equality, his foreign minister issued a joint statement with the Swedish Foreign Minister. The links between human trafficking and prostitution is well established and figures have proved that women and girls are the main victims. Regarding this blatant human rights violation and the drastic increase in the overall number of victims, both France and Sweden decided to join forces to pursue the same goal in tackling this issue. 

The main part of the initiative consists in the introduction of legislations against the normalization of prostitution as work, but which instead makes the purchase of sexual services illegal. Indeed, by considering the purchase of sexual services as a crime, they put the emphasize on the sex-buyer not the person in prostitution. This type of legislation, in place in Sweden for twenty years, has shown very positive results in decreasing the demands but also in making it easier to support victims to exit prostitution. Similar legislation was introduced in France in 2016 and the government firmly believes that this legislation will prove as effective in France as in Sweden.  The CAP (Coalition Abolition Prostitution) sees this decision as a major step. They described this move as historic, marking the 40th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 70th anniversary of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others,

Both countries pursue the same goal but with its long-standing feminist policies Sweden as act a pioneer in the duo, leading the way, however recently France has launched quite a number of initiative in this way. Indeed, the join operation with Sweden is part of a larger project of Emmanuel Macron to Gender equality the major cause of his five years terms. He committed, as host of the G7 in 2019, in making gender equality and the fight against violence made to women a priority of the summit in Biarritz. The aim is to bring other countries to join the abolitionist strategy initiated with Sweden to fight  the exploitation and prostitution of the most vulnerable women and girls.


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