This webinar will try to answer the following questions:
- What is the role of demand in relation with sex trafficking?
- How do present laws support victims of sex trafficking?
- How to improve the situation?
DEMAND AS ROOT CAUSE FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING – SEX TRAFFICKING & PROSTITUTION
OPENING REMARKS — DEMAND’S RESPONSIBLITY: Professor Michel Veuthey, Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
- Sr. Mirjam Beike, RGS, Moderator
- INTRODUCTION ON DEMAND’S ROLE: Brian Iselin, Founder of Geneva-based Slave Free Trade, a nonprofit working on leveraging the might of the blockchain to rid the world of slave labor
- Sandra Norak, Survivor of the “Lover Boy” Method to Traffick Women into Prostitution
- Sr. Lea Ackermann, Founder of SOLWODI, an international association that helps women in emergency situations
- Inge Bell, German human rights activist, entrepreneur and second chairperson of the women’s rights organization Terre des Femmes and the Bavarian branch of the aid organization Solwodi
TEXT OF THE APRIL 13 WEBINAR:
DEMAND AS ROOT CAUSE FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING — SEX TRAFFICKING & PROSTITUTION
MICHEL VEUTHEY: welcome to the first of three webinars on demand as root cause for human trafficking. Today, we shall discuss sex trafficking and prostitution. On behalf of the Order of Malta, I would like to thank Sr. Mirjam Beike for her active participation in the organisation of these webinars, as well as Brian Iselin. Brian is at the origin of the emphasis we shall now put on the demand side of human trafficking. He is the co-organiser of these three webinars. As we have seen in our previous webinars, criminal prosecution is needed, but not sufficient. To date, few Government legislations and measures have addressed demand. Understanding and addressing demand is the way forward to prevent and combat human trafficking. This is why we welcome the Nordic or Swedish Model of prostitution that will be discussed during this seminar. Human trafficking is a heavy, complex phenomenon, that requires broad cooperation between Governments and civil society, including religious organisations. We all need to address the root cause, the main root cause, which is a culture of striving for maximum profit, on the part of producers and consumers, a culture that undermines and even denies the dignity of the human being, the family, work and the environment. In today’s throwaway culture, women, men, children are seen as a commodity that can be freely exploited, disposed of, an object for sale. Today, we are very fortunate to welcome distinguished speakers. First, Sr Mirjam Beike, Geneva Representative at the UN in Geneva of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. She worked 30 years with survivors of trafficking in Germany and Albania. She is a working board member of RENATE, Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation, and of the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Second speaker is Brian Iselin, former Australian soldier and federal agent, founder of the NGO slavefreetrade, working on eliminating modern slavery on the workplace. Mrs. Sandra Norak, survivor of Lover Boy method, now works to raise awareness about the harms of prostitution. She’s active in a German Association called SISTERS that helps women in prostitution and assists them in leaving prostitution. Mrs. Inge Bell, German human rights activist, entrepreneur and second chairperson of the women’s rights organisation Terre des Femmes, and the Bavarian branch of the aid organisation, SOLWODI, which means Solidarity with Women in Distress. We are very grateful that Sr. Lea Ackermann, founder of SOLWODI, might join us later during the discussion. And now, I have the great pleasure to give the floor to our first speaker and moderator, Sr. Mirjam Beike. Mirjam, you have the floor.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Michel. You have already presented our speakers. So now I see that the first speaker that we planned has disappeared, but he will come back. It will be technical problems. Hi, Brian. So Brian was already introduced by you, and we want first to go deeper and give an introduction on the role of demand, because to understand this is very important for us. So please, Brian, you have the floor.
BRIAN ISELIN: Great. Thanks so much, Sr. Mirjam. Thanks so much for the invitation again, Michel, to be here. And I’m guessing at this point some participants are going, “Oh no, not this guy again.” Yes, sorry. I will try to be quick and I’ll also, thanks, Michel, for the tip, be slower than usual. I’ve been working on trafficking for nearly two decades, and before that I was working in global counternarcotics. The majority of the time working on trafficking, I’ve been working on sexual exploitation. And throughout those 20 years, every day, there’s not a single day I haven’t been disappointed with the evidence of a global scarcity of something that is really actually quite shocking for us to be failing at. Globally, we are failing to have any impact at all against human trafficking. And at the same time, we see a mounting body of evidence of a continuing upward spiral in trafficking in the vast majority of countries of the world. And I think one of the leading contributors to this lack of impact is actually a pretty lousy recognition of the causes of trafficking. It’s so essential to be crystal clear on cause and I’ve been beating this drum for almost 20 years and it’s still a problem. And I think, frankly, people are just intellectually quite lazy about it. If interventions are incorrectly addressing false causes, that 100 percent leads to a lack of impact. Addressing false causes means a lack of impact should actually be the only expected outcome. Addressing, for example, a vulnerability. It would be quite mad to hope that that will deliver impact, if by impact, you actually mean curing something. If you treat headaches arising from a tumour in the brain, it would be quite remarkable if you actually ended up curing that tumour. You would have made medical history. And the same is so for human trafficking. One of the big reasons for this mistake, as the cause, is the common, but completely false understanding, that trafficking is linear. It’s the very definition of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I think you all know it: It follows, therefore, it was caused by. Although it’s widely, very widely taught this way, trafficking is not linear. It is circular. A poor woman being recruited and moved from a rural location in Mexico to a brothel in Texas, does not make the conditions of the victim at that time, in that place, the cause. Being poor is not the cause, being female is not the cause, being Mexican is not the cause. So let’s just be very clear, I’m going to really hammer the time, if I can. Let’s be super clear about causation. In identifying cause, we should be looking not for these inconsequential forces that launch boats into the stream, but rather seek the source of the stream itself. It’s pretty simple to be clear on cause. Find out what makes it all happen, and you have the cause. Once you find the cause, it’s recognisable by being a rule with few, if any, exceptions. So because most people are poor before being trafficked, does not make poverty the cause. The vast majority of people in poverty are never trafficked. The same fallacy applies to other vulnerability factors. In migration context, they’re often correctly called push factors. Domestic violence, being in prostitution, illiteracy, lack of citizenship, being a woman, ethnicity, age. These all are contributory conditions that may exist in a supply country, but that doesn’t make them a cause. I mean, if we apply that logic along most any other subject, if you think about it very clearly, we would see the cause of murder as the gun, not the shooter. Or we would see the cause of rape, being a woman or wearing a short skirt. It’s patently ridiculous. Of course it is. But who thinks about this when we talk about human trafficking? There is identifiable cause in trafficking. It’s not hard, but you have to apply systems thinking, not linear thinking. Because if you think about the criminal process, it’s linear. Criminal processes are, that’s why the criminal law is written like that. If you elevate your view above mere process, in fact, you can’t help but see it. Consider conceptually for a second, the forces at work, move backwards behind the specifics of individual cases, and then back further behind sets of cases, and classes of cases, and look more towards the sources of all cases. And the single force that every case of trafficking comes back to at some point, is demand. It precedes the movement of the person. It precedes the recruitment of a person. It always precedes their trafficking. A demand always pre-exists and that demand is quite simply the driver. And addressing that driver is the only way to have any impact whatsoever. Sorry? You want me to stop? No, you don’t want me to stop. Okay. So it was always thus, right. Addressing the driver is the only way to have any impact. If we’re talking exclusively about trafficking for the sexual exploitation of women, the trafficking of any particular woman from any location, on any given day, is driven by a demand for paid sexual services by someone with those characteristics. The reason it does not happen to everyone is that there needs to be a convergence. So this is where experience as a federal agent comes in. We look at convergences of circumstances. But a convergence of the pre-existing demand for that woman, with criminal opportunity, that is, the recruiter has access. With location, a transporter is active there and with a joined up network from point A to point Omega, and Omega is the point of exploitation, is what makes one person a trafficking victim and an almost identical person, not a trafficking victim. A network driven by, motivated by, directed by, rewarded by someone’s demand for that victim, at that place, at that time. It’s really very specific. For the purpose of my intervention, I think Michel would like me to make this the point of my intervention, is to point out that the cause of trafficking for sexual exploitation is to satisfy demand for paid sexual services. That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that. Illicit markets are just like licit markets, and they’re driven by demand, not supply. It’s something we learned in the world of counternarcotics very early on. We didn’t change the way we did things because there was so much invested in supply side initiatives on narcotics. But at the same time, we recognised that the demand was where we needed to do things to be effective. Because supply, quite seriously, with drugs, as with people, is infinite. If we acknowledge trafficking is a response to a demand that completely changes our understanding about what we need to do. Have a think about all of the measures you find, that you know about, you read about, Thomson Reuters Foundation is always writing about them, about human trafficking, and consider for a moment how many of them address demand and how many of them do everything else? Globally, billions of dollars are spent every year on supply side measures and the treatment of vulnerabilities. There is an entire global movement, an entire business, entire industry, built on using human trafficking money to address vulnerabilities such as poverty, illiteracy, etc. And addressing poverty and illiteracy is very important. But it’s not a human trafficking initiative. It doesn’t make a dent in human trafficking and never will. None of them have a chance of impact because you’re not addressing cause, if you have no hope of changing the nature, the structure of the system. Treating the headache is important, but don’t ever kid yourself that by doing that, you’re curing cancer. Most trafficking measures are focused on reducing these vulnerabilities and limiting these factors in supply countries. Whereas the causal demand side remains almost completely neglected. So if we just invert our view for a second, if we just decide that it is demand that causes illicit markets, this means we have to have a very good think about everything that we’re currently doing and especially, everything that is currently being funded by these massive funding agencies that deal with human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. All human trafficking is a market response to a demand for people to perform certain acts of service. Now I adopt, I became a bit of a scholar of behavioral economics, so I adopt a pure economic definition. But effective demand is a willingness to buy, coupled with a capacity to buy. And so this is where we see the popular categorisation of the three Ds. You’ve probably all heard this: dirty, dangerous and degrading. It comes into play. Where there exists a demand for someone to do dirty, or dangerous or degrading, or all three, that’s where traffickers will say, “There’s profit” and act to supply the services as a result. It’s the demand perceptions of the traffickers that are at the heart of demand for trafficked victims. A critical point to be made is the sheer waste of time in differentiating between the man who buys sex from a trafficked woman, and the man who buys sex from any woman, because one very simple and tragic fact, is that those men who buy sex do not care about the identity or the situation of the woman at hand. Their demand is faceless, nameless, and consentless. So to understand the buyer’s side as the start of this demand equation and thinking about where we could act, behavioral economics could be actually really helpful. Sexual services are higher order wants. Factors that influence and change demand for higher order wants, can shift the demand curve. And they include changes in tastes and preferences, including, for example, racism, convenience and availability, which includes, of course, things like risk of detection and cost of detection, changes in real or disposable income, changes in population, like gender equality, for example. This is why Sweden is such a hub for things like the Nordic Model because of the high levels of gender equality. Changes in the price of substitutes or other goods, expectations about the future and change in distribution of income in society. So one very important thing, and I think I’m running out of time maybe, but now a really important feature of all higher order wants is that they are generally considered insatiable because the higher the general level, that is, the aggregate demand in society, the higher still the demand becomes. With higher order wants, there is an upward spiral of demand. It becomes self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing. And that same demand spiral also works downwards. You will all have known of higher order wants that didn’t become interesting for people and demand started to plummet or something serious happened, a scandal, for example, and demand spiraled downwards. And so this is the beauty of what has been called external economies of scale. The risk of any one transaction in an illicit market falls with an increase in the total number of transactions, and vice versa. The risk of any one transaction increases with a decrease in the total number of transactions. Do you understand the inverse relationship there? The risk of a transaction falls, but the total number of transactions increases. So an increase in the volumes of transactions, reduces the cost of services, reduces the industrywide risk of arrest and cyclically leads to more transactions, and the obverse is true. So these external economies of scale are really important for us because they’re self-perpetuating, both upwards and downwards in their impact on demand, which means something very, very important for us. If you punch an upward demand spiral in the guts, you can change its nature and its direction. And this self-perpetuating tendency is important for public policy on traffic, as you can imagine. A decent measure of demand reduction to arrest an upward trend of demand can trigger a spiral downwards. Human trafficking policy, if you really intend to have impact on the problem, not just issuing paracetamol for a tumour, you should aim at the decision making of buyers and traffickers, shrinking the illicit market, while simultaneously reducing the harms associated with both the existence and the shrinking of the market. Because there will be people hurt by the shrinking of the market. To use business language, what we want to do, the aim is, to safely reduce the total number of illicit transactions within an economy, in a country. This means we also protect the vulnerable for whom shrinking markets mean livelihood challenges, obviously, by employing viable exit strategies for women in prostitution. I think I’ve gone on long enough. Let me just skip to the end. While buyers and traffickers can act relatively free of consequence, their likelihood of engaging in the market increases; The number of transactions, increases, demand increases. It becomes easier, cheaper and far more likely in a consequence free environment, for a man to buy sexual services or for a trafficker to sell it. And it increases dramatically the number of transactions, which is a self-perpetuating upward spiral. More transactions leads to many more transactions. So increasing transactions is what we actually see in countries, in markets where regulation and decriminalisation of approaches to prostitution apply. They inadvertently become magnet economies. The overflow of demand, that is, the limit at which the local population will provide sufficient women to satisfy this increasing male demand, it must be met from abroad. That’s where trafficking steps up. We don’t have time to address all of the policy measures that we can take. The evidence is crystal clear across the Nordic region. I know there’s a very good report just in the last couple of days from Norway, which came out in favour of this as well, that increased perceived risk when buying resulted in reduced transactions. Reduced transactions makes the market less attractive to traffickers and trafficking drops off. From a behavioural perspective, the only solution for impacting the dimensions of the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation is to reduce the number of buyers buying. It’s that simple. Thank you.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Brian. Very impressive. I want to say this will be a video on demand and I will surely go back and listen to this again and take everything in. I like that you said treating the headache is one thing, but of course, you have to treat the symptoms. Or demand is faceless, nameless and consentless with the demand for sexual exploitation. And as well—
BRIAN ISELIN: You have to treat the tumour if you want to kill the tumour.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Yeah. So thank you very much for this introduction for our discussion. Now, I want to welcome Sr. Lea Ackermann. Thank you very much that you are here, Lea. We are going on. At the moment, we don’t hear you. But don’t worry, our technical will give you the word. We will continue with Sandra.
LEA ACKERMANN: I would like to greet you all and am very happy to see you and to hear your argument.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you. So I will just give a short introduction of whom we have here. Sr. and Dr. Lea Ackermann studied pedagogy, psychology and theology, worked as a religious sister, sister of Our Lady of Africa, for five years in the school service in Rwanda, then seven years as an educational advisor at Mission Munich, Head Lecturer at the Catholic University of Eichstätt. In 1985, you went to Mombasa, Kenya and got involved with women who were in prostitution through impoverishment and sex tourism, and this gave rise to the idea of founding SOLWODI, a registered association that works on a donation basis and means Solidarity with Women in Distress. It’s now in Germany. It’s in Austria. It’s in Kenya. So you are spreading this network around the world. You got the Federal Cross of Merit, You are Women of Europe, and you have an honorary doctorate from the University of Lucerne. You got the Romano Guardini Prize and the Anton Martini Memorial Prize. Well, thank you very much for being with us. Now, all our listeners know who is here amongst us, but I beg you a little bit for patience because our next speaker is Sandra. So now we have heard about root causes and Sandra, she knows best of us all, what it means to be trafficked and to suffer sexual exploitation. So please, Sandra, we are very honoured to hear your story and what you, as a survivor, has to tell us.
SANDRA NORAK: Okay, thank you for organising this and for talking about prostitution and trafficking and solutions. I want to speak about, first a little bit about me, about the Lover Boy method, which part legislation plays, and also about the mechanisms of trafficking, prostitution, and about demand. So first, a few facts about my story, I have been through. I became acquainted with my trafficker and pimp, who was about 35 years old, on the Internet when I was a minor. At the time, I had long continuing problems with my mentally ill mother, a stay in the clinic due to anorexia, as well as self-harm behaviour. And of course, he knew the circumstances and used my vulnerabilities. So when I came home from school, I stationed myself immediately at the computer and spent a long time in different chat rooms. And we wrote more and more, then every day. And he waited for me online and gave me the feeling to be there for me. I spoke with him more and more about my problems and he showed support and understanding. And so it came to the first real meeting where he invited me to eat. He was my first love. The first person that I had sexual intercourse with. And up to this point, prostitution was not mentioned. Talking about prostitution began slowly, when he knew that I emotionally hang on him and he was the only person to whom I related. So at the weekend, I travelled by train to his city and after a while he took me to brothels of some of his friends, who were brothel owners. And after a while he wanted that I prostitute myself. And when I refused, he began to explain, he had great debts and was stuck into difficulties, and I’m the only person who can help him. So I had anxiety of losing him, and that something is happening to him. And so I began to prostitute myself. I became a full-time prostituted woman and broke off school because I could not lead this double life. So the strategy, which is about targeted searching, recruiting, and pushing young women into prostitution for the purpose to exploit them sexually by faking or simulating a love relationship at the beginning falls under human trafficking and is called the Lover Boy method. This form of recruiting for human trafficking is getting more and more common, because it is the safest way for the trafficker to escape prosecution. He can hide behind the alleged voluntariness of the young women that are under his control. Lover Boy traffickers and Lover Boy pimps, they look for an easy prey. They use the vulnerabilities of the young women, especially when you come from a broken home, when you have already experienced sexual abuse, violence, neglect in the past. These are the general preconditions for entry into prostitution. But it’s not limited, that only vulnerable young girls are trafficked. In Germany, there are also women who have been victims of Lover Boy pimps, who come from families where there’s no evidence of abuse or violence. But they met their Lover Boy pimp when they were very young. It was their first time being in love. They were like typical adolescents rebelling against their parents. So we have a very… This method is very common when it comes to trafficking and pimping. But how someone is able to endure prostitution, what it means enduring very intimate things, being in prostitution and enduring countless penetrations by strangers; one needs attitudes that trivialize this violence; That it all was bearable or not so bad at all. And how do you get such an attitude? If someone is abused physically or psychologically early in the childhood, as it was with me, the affected person is convinced by the idea that being mistreated is not so hard, or deserved, or normal, because you don’t know how it is to be treated well. In psychological traumatology, this is called the offender-influenced way of thinking. It is kind of survival strategy to stand violence better. So if the current situation cannot be endured or changed, affected persons often take the perpetrator’s point of view because if they act like offenders want them to act, the chances of survival are higher. So for example, if I do exactly what they tell me, they will probably let me alone and it will not become so bad. Or words like, “You are worthless”, can turn into, “I am worthless”, or “You will never achieve it”, can turn into, “I will never achieve it.” So this internalisation and taking over of the offender’s ideas due to self-protection, becomes manifest until one is grown up and it determines daily life, not only in the form of a negative self image, but also in the form of a lack of self-protection and self care. So someone who had to learn enduring violence early, as a survival strategy often won’t later be able to protect against it. And for these persons there is a very high risk of being trafficked and exploited. And when in addition, sexualised violence in the form of prostitution is not named as such in society, and in a State like in Germany, trivialised as a service, those offender-influenced ways of thinking will not be terminated, but confirmed. So with the legality of buying sex, people, mostly women in prostitution, are taught that the violence that they experience in prostitution would not be real violence because it is legal that they can be sold for sexual objectification and abuse. So the Government signalises with its liberal legislation, prostitution is not violence, but a normal job. And this point of view is taken over by many, many counselling organisations too. And that is dangerous because it misleads a person to get into prostitution without clarifying to them the immense amount of violence that awaits them there. So I give you an example of what I mean. When my trafficker pushed me for the first time into a brothel during my recruitment as a young adult, I had a very bad intuition and wanted to escape. I was young, unstable, vulnerable, and didn’t know how to hold myself, and which kind of dangerous situation I was. He led me towards prostitution and coerced me and said I should not be embarrassed. “It was all normal”, he told me. “It’s normal in Germany.” “It’s just a job”, and so on. And so I remember the point of view of our Government, which considers prostitution as a job, and that pimps, as well as brothel owners appear on talk shows being called businessmen instead of criminals. So I remember that this milieu was mainly described as not so bad at all. And exactly this image of normality in the prostitution milieu is transmitted with Germany’s State legislation. And so I could not recognise that I was on the way sliding into the middle of a criminal milieu full of violence. It was not named as a crime and won’t be named as one. So however, our State has got a responsibility to be a role model. Every State has that responsibility to be a role model and provider of orientation, especially for young and vulnerable people. If our State had told me that, for example, with a prohibition of buying sex, or by talking about the violence in prostitution, that prostitution is violence and a violation of human dignity, my trafficker would have had it much harder to lead me in prostitution because I would be warned. So however, the sad truth is that our State believes that sexual violence against women is normal because it’s liberal legislation on prostitution means nothing else. That is what people are guiding themselves with. That’s how children grow up in our country, in Germany, believing that it isn’t violence, when women and young girls in prostitution are penetrated daily, sometimes 10, 20 times a day, and are deprived of their dignity and worth. But of course, it is violence. So exiting and escaping after the experiences you made in prostitution, is very hard. A physical exit from prostitution, the bodily step into real life can often be managed, but the physical exit does not automatically mean the psychological exit. So being in prostitution, you experience the deepest abysses of our society, an immeasurable and unimaginable extent of violence, humiliation, lies and inhumanity. One can flee from this life physically, but psychologically, hang in the thick of memories and pain. And often due to the experiences you have made, there is a deep belief that you are worthless, you are unable to achieve anything, and deserve nothing else. So the physical exit is often difficult, but the psychological exit is even more difficult because it often takes years, or even decades, and it involves breaking through pain and trauma. It is the slow distancing from an earlier life full of violence. And this psychological exit is difficult but extremely important. And it’s not about forgetting your experiences, but it is about accepting the non-erasable past to integrate it into your life and to simultaneously break free from this parallel world of prostitution and trafficking. So to come to the end, I want to mention the last point, and it’s about also what we have talked about. It’s about demand. To fight trafficking and exploitation, we need to reduce demand because demand is a breeding ground for trafficking. Where there is a high demand, it’s much more lucrative for traffickers. You cannot fight trafficking when you are promoting demand on the other side. And when you treat prostitution as a job, as a service that can be bought, like you can buy a pack of cigarettes, like it is in Germany, you are promoting demand. In Germany, we have an estimated number of 1.2 million sex buyers, who use sexual services each day. So you can imagine that traffickers in Germany are becoming rich. So Germany is unfortunately a country where pimps and traffickers are able to become rich with a very low risk of being prosecuted. A very low risk, because they can hide very well behind legal structures. So thousands of women in Germany are used and exploited, but nobody is really seeing this because it is hidden behind a legal system, behind a legislation, that calls all the women in prostitution, automatically, prostitutes. But most of these, and we speak about 200,000 to 400,000 women in prostitution in Germany, they are no prostitutes. They are trafficked. They are forced. They were abused as a child and never got to know what it means to live a life without violence, to live a life with dignity, or they do not find the way out after their trafficking and exploitation situation, as it was also the case with me. So statistically, there is a high probability to become a whole life prostitute after being exploited and trafficked, not because you wanted, but because you are broken. And most of these so-called prostitutes are the children who were left behind when they were young, and now left behind a second time by society. So I don’t like to call these broken souls prostitutes. There are no prostitutes from the heart. After my trafficking and exploitation situation, I became also such a free choice prostitute, but not because I was a prostitute from the heart. I became one because on the one hand, I don’t know how to exit this life after my exploitation. So I was highly traumatised because of what has happened. And at the end, I lived in the brothel where I was exploited, had no flat, had broken up with school, had almost no contacts to people outside the red light. And on the other hand, I had experienced so much sexual abuse and exploitation that I lost my worth, my identity, my personality, that I thought I don’t deserve help from people outside the red light, and that I have to do the exit on my own no matter how long it takes. And when you start with nothing and when you have the feeling that the only thing you are worth is what your trafficker has made out of you, a prostitute, it takes time. It takes time to find back to yourself. And honestly, a lot of women being trafficked and exploited never find back to themselves because they had been broken too much. So statistically, there is a high probability to become a whole life prostitute after being trafficked. So you have a “free choice prostitute”, but nobody is seeing the stories behind these “free choice prostitutes”. So it’s not because you want it, but because you are broken. In this situation, I even defended my prostitution outwardly because I don’t want people to see how far I’m actually down, how far I’m on the edge, and because it would hurt too much to say that it is violence when you physically and, or psychologically, see no way to escape this violence. So I was never a prostitute from the heart. I grew up with the wish of becoming a sea biologist when I first saw the film Free Willy, when I was a child, and not of becoming someone being penetrated one day after the other. So in the meantime, my dreams changed because of my trafficking and prostitution experiences. So after my exploitation, I catched up school education, which I had broken up before because of my trafficker. I studied law and I’m going to become a lawyer fighting against exploitation and for enlightenment. This is what I am from the heart and other women dream, for example, of being a police officer, scientist, an artist, and so on. They dream about a lot, but not of being a prostitute. So no matter what kind of prostitution legislation we prefer, and I prefer the so-called Swedish/Nordic Model, and fighting for this to implement in Germany with a lot of other great people, nobody can tell me that only one child on this earth grows up with the wish of becoming a prostitute, with the wish of being penetrated hundreds, thousands of times by strangers. Children do not grow up with this wish. So, of course, I cannot speak for every woman who is in prostitution, but for the majority. And we do not have 200,000 so-called “prostitutes” in Germany. Instead, what we do have in Germany for sure, are thousands of broken children whose dreams were taken away from them, and who are locked now in the system of prostitution. I was just one of these 200,000 to 400,000 who are just called prostitutes, and where the stories behind are mostly unknown. So whoever is listening here, please do not normalise or accept such a system, where you can find so many broken lives and souls, but instead, fighting the system, and fighting the system means to fight against demand. Thank you.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you very much, Sandra. Listening to this painful story is painful for us. It’s a very strong testimony and you made very much clear that there are thousands of broken children out and no so-called “prostitutes”. We have already a comment on what you said, “A very powerful and moving testimonial of someone who went through the hell that is human trafficking. Thank you for sharing your story.” There is a question with it. We come to the questions at the end of the event. I see Sr. Lea wants to say something, so now I give the word to Sr. Lea for about 10 minutes. Sr. Lea you can comment on it. You can share your experience and you can just enrich us with your wisdom. Thank you. Can you unmute Sr. Lea? Yes, go on.
LEA ACKERMANN: I thank very much Sandra for her talk. It touches me very hard because I am together now with small kids. We have 40 kids in the house I have, and three of them, 12 years old, are pregnant. It’s awful. And I see how these kids have no possibility to grow up light and learning all what’s happening around. They are really used, and that is awful. I thank you Sandra, that you speak, that you touch us, that it is a very criminal act, and that we arrange that these criminals are very much in jail and everything, because they are criminals, and they do so much harm to children and young women. It’s just awful. And I cannot understand that in Germany we cannot forbid prostitution. Because that is always violence, it’s never free. I believe I have spoken with a lot of women in prostitution, and never call them “prostitutes”. I always say “women in prostitution”, because they are not free in that. Even when they say, “Oh, I make that.” I think altogether what’s happened, that the women accept this very act of violence and criminality. We will do everything that it gets forbidden in Germany, like in the other countries, Sweden, and so on. Thank you.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Lea. We will explore this more, what you spoke about some more. It’s not really the Nordic Model because prostitution is not forbidden in this sense, and I think Inge Bell is a real expert to explain the Nordic Model. And I would like you to give your comments and your explanation to this law that exists already and is successful. You have the floor, Inge.
INGE BELL: Thank you very much, Lea. I also want to thank you, Sandra. It’s always when we are together on panels like this, or conferences. Though I know your story and I know you since lot of years, it’s always very touching, moving, and still, I’m always happy that I’m not the speaker right after you because I could simply not speak after hearing your story, which I already know. And maybe I just want to contribute to what Sr. Lea said. Sr. Lea, I’m not sure whether you know that you could have now taken the floor longer to present your wonderful organisation, SOLWODI. So maybe before I talk about the Nordic Model, maybe Sr. Lea, who is such a famous woman, and one of the… Well, she is the pioneer of anti-human trafficking engagement and action. And maybe she should speak first about SOLWODI, maybe.
LEA ACKERMANN: I’ll say something. I’m very happy to have the occasion to say, I was, as a missionary sister in Kenya, Mombasa. A paradise. Very nice. And then people came, who had enough money to pay travelling in this paradise, and I have seen the misery and the poverty of people there, women and children, and they use that for their own pleasure. So I was so angry about that, and I spoke with the women. I said, “What do you think?” And so on. They said, “Do you think it’s a pleasure for us to go with all these idiots?” And then I said, “If you feel like that, let’s go together and think what can we do to bring you out of that?” And clearly, a lot of young women made school, made a profession. They are a teacher and others. That was very, very important. And then I have seen the children, and my foundation was SOLWODI, Solidarity with Women in Distress, because I feel that prostitution diminish all women, if they are in prostitution, or not. In our country, it says, “Women, you can buy”, and things you can buy are objects. Not a person. So I cannot understand that they are not ready to accept that it’s forbidden. In Kenya, it’s also… The women go in prison because travelling in purpose of prostitution is forbidden. And they take the women to fill up their purses, and they have to pay. If they have no money, they go in jail. Never the men. They say, “You are walking on the street only to get a man for prostitution.” So that makes me very, very angry. And the women I have met together are the same. And then I have seen a lot of children who are not accepted in their family because the mother was too young to get the child, or was not accepted, was not married. And then these children of these misused women, are also put aside on the street, and that’s why I am looking now for these women and SOLWODI, I have given in other hands because I’m old. But one thing I will do is always being scared for children. Young girls who are brought in prostitution like Sandra. It’s so awful and it’s such a big crime, that the rest of my life, I will help these young children to get out of that, to get in school, to get healed, to get proud of their own person. I would like that every child can be proud of themselves. And that is why I will do everything to help young girls, children, and that’s my new foundation is foundation for children in distress, in misery. And I’m happy and I see it’s very important. I can go as long as I live for these children. Thank you. SR. MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Lea, for these words, very touching and very passionate, and I think only this passion can bring something forward if we are connected, and go on and go on, against all the obstacles that we meet in this fight. Thank you very much. Now Inge, you can explain more about the Nordic Model, please. Thank you. INGE BELL: I will do so. But first of all, thank you very much Lea, for your kind words. And just to give you a short impression, well I’m not a journalist anymore, but I used to work almost 15 years for the first German television, for ARD, as a journalist with the focus on the political, social, and economic development in South Eastern Europe. And it was the time after the Iron Curtain came down and later on, after the Kosovo war. And as you know, these countries in South Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, were re-formed countries, post-socialist countries, with all these big problems which persist until today: so organised crime, prostitution, human trafficking. And as we all know, since the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria, what we face now in Germany is that most of the women in prostitution are from these countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and when Sr. Lea started her help programs in Kenya back in the 1980s, 1985, I think you founded the first SOLWODI, Solidarity with Women in Distress organisation in Kenya. By that time, you focused on the sex tourism in these countries. But then you came back to Germany and after 1989, the wall came down and you witnessed all this influx of the Eastern European countries into Germany, into prostitution, all the Polish, the Czech, the Russian, and then later on, the Romanian and Bulgarian women, and very young women and girls who flooded, literally, the prostitution scene. And so you started SOLWODI also in Germany. And I think we have right now almost 20 special advisory centres and shelters in Germany, and also in Hungary and Romania, and of course, the big organisation which persists since 1985 in Kenya with what you said, so really the follow-up organisation for the girls, victims of trafficking. And this is a life achievement Sr. Lea, and thank you very much for this. And we came across, we met when I was still this reporter back in 1999 when the Kosovo war took place. And I was a reporter and a war reporter in the Kosovo war. And I came across a topic which never left me until today. This is trafficking with children, with underage, with minor, with children for the purpose of sexual exploitation by soldiers, by United Nations soldiers, by KFOR, Kosovo Force peacekeeping troops. The bombings in Kosovo had just been over in 1999 and 2000, and international peacekeeping troops, thousands of United Nations soldiers were all over the Balkans to stabilise the region and to defend human rights and peace. But instead of defending human rights, soldiers would abuse them. These soldiers would buy “sex services” of underage girls, raped and forced to prostitute themselves. They were collected all over Eastern Europe and brought to Macedonia, to Kosovo and to the surrounding countries in order to satisfy “the needs” of the soldiers. And of course, I was deeply shocked by the moment. But what I did is, I did not only report about it, but I also went freeing women from these jails because they were jailed into these brothels. They could not go out. There were iron bars in front of the windows. And what we did as journalists, we did not only report, but we wanted to help them, these women and underage girls. And that’s why Sr. Lea and I met, because on the long run, I could free some women out of these brothels and bring them to SOLWODI, back to Germany. And what I want to say is that, I’m not a journalist anymore, but when I was a journalist, it could have been absolutely sufficient and very honourable to just make this investigative documentary about this horrific human trafficking scandal. Peacekeeping soldiers and underage forced prostitutes. Wow. This is sex and crime. What a story. What a scoop. Lots of journalists would have dreamt of such an opportunity. But yes, of course, I did this investigative TV report and it became a huge sensation, and it took everybody up, society, politicians, human rights organisations, and of course, also the peacekeeping troops, the German soldiers. It was not only the German soldiers. There was Austrian soldiers, American soldiers, from France, from England, from all over the world. And today, it is a known fact that peacekeeping soldiers are often involved in human trafficking or human rights abuse, and raising awareness, as well as educating among the troops is standard now, or should be at least. But sadly enough, these human rights abuses by United Nations soldiers still happen today. And I did not want just to report about it. I felt that I could act because when I came across these children, I wanted to change the world of these children a little bit for the better. And I would also start raising awareness campaigns about the big business of human trafficking, with my capabilities. So I started then to establish several humanitarian aid programs for these girls. I was a journalist and I had a lot of contacts with people and organisations. And so I started humanitarian work. And some of the programs are still running until today. I wrote and write books on human rights violation. I deliver speeches, as today. I hold seminars and I teach on human rights at the University. And so it’s now 20 years later, and I still fight against human trafficking and prostitution. And sometimes it seems to me that nothing changes. But then again, I see a lot of things change because when I started, like 20 years ago, there was no Honeyball report. There was no EU Parliamentary Resolution like since 2014 when they said, “Well, prostitution is really harmful and please stop demand, and the recommendation is please introduce in the legislation in the European Union countries, introduce the Nordic Model.” The Nordic Model, with just since 20 years in action in Sweden, then later on in Norway, and Iceland, and Ireland, and Canada, and France, and now recently in Israel, and as far as I know, Spain is also preparing laws in order to introduce the Nordic Model. And now I’ll come to the point: the Nordic Model is about decriminalising the prostitutes, but criminalizing the “Johns”, so the buyers of this, I really hate to say the words, of these “sex services”, because it’s not a service and it is not sex. It is rape. And it can never be a service because prostitution can never be a job. But the basic thing of Nordic Model, as Sweden introduced it, is decriminalising women and girls and prostitution, helping them out of prostitution. Criminalising the buyers, so stop the demand by criminalising the buyers. It’s also really sensitisation, awareness-raising in the society, and awareness-raising in society starts very early in school or in kindergarten, that it’s absolutely forbidden that one sex buys the other sex. That men buy women. That men can buy the access to the bodies of women and children. And this is a legal law for them. So this is absolutely a no go. But this is still the case in Germany. So first of all, decriminalise prostitutes or women in prostitution, criminalise the buyers, awareness-raising for the society, real help for the women in prostitution, and no such helping cosmetics, as I always say. It has to be real help for them, real support, and starting at an early age, and the absolute conviction or the commitment to the sentence, “That prostitution can never be on one step with gender equality. Prostitution is the contrary of gender equality, because prostitution is violence against women and girls”. So which was a very revolutionary act by then in Sweden, is now agreed by most of the Swedish population. If you go to Sweden and you ask people in Sweden, “What do you think about prostitution?” Most of them would say, “Prostitution? No, no, no, no. This is not in accordance with gender equality. No, no, no. This is not in accordance with human dignity. No, this can never be a job, oh my God.” And someone who buys the sexual services of a woman in prostitution, he is seen like a drug addict or a loser. So he seems a very strange person. This is 20 years later in Sweden. And when we look at Germany, who chose 20 years ago, the other way, the way to legalise prostitution, to have a liberal thought on this, to think, “Okay, we might get the women out of the stigmatisation, when we introduce a more liberal law and we do some regulatory things in our legislation”. But now when you ask someone here in Germany, on the street, “What do you think about prostitution?” Then you would have the answer, “Prostitution. Oh, that’s cool. Well, it’s just sex work, and if they choose to do it voluntarily, that’s just cool”. Which is really sad because what happens in Germany is now that the whole world is looking upon Germany, like we look into America, into the US legislation on arms, on weapons. We really think, “Oh my God, weapons are legalised there and every one can have weapons and arms” and we think, “Oh my God, how is this possible?” And the whole world looks on Germany and says, “Oh my God, how is this possible they legalised prostitution and all the women are sexually exploited”, and you literally see what happened with this Eastern Europe thing that all the young Bulgarian and Romanian women and girls come over to Germany and flood the prostitution market there and are exploited. They are not workers. They are just exploited. They are victims, victims of violence. “And oh my God, what is Germany doing here?” So we are looked upon like the brothel of Europe, and Germany, as the brothel of Europe, Germany should be a lighthouse. It should send out a signal against prostitution, against exploitation, and against violence against women in prostitution. But it is not. Not yet. But what I can tell you, as I said before, that I witnessed 20 years of slow change, but I’m really, very happy to tell you that about one month ago in Germany, was founded a bigger alliance, an Alliance Nordic Model (“Bündnis Nordisches Modell”) in which unite now more than 30 organisations. Among them, of course, big organisations like SOLWODI, like SISTERS, which is represented by Sandra here in this panel, and also by Terre des Femmes, which is my organisation, where I’m the Vice-President. So it’s not only the big organisations with charities and women’s rights, but it’s also the grassroot initiatives. And also Church, Katholischer Deutscher Frauenbund, the Catholic Alliance, a German Women’s Alliance is also within this alliance for the Nordic Model. So we have this broader alliance now with hundreds and thousands of members which advocate for the Nordic Model. And it has to have a joint approach towards the politicians in order to change this absurd legislation, legislation which is simply laughed at, for example, by the countries of the Nordic Model. Well, it’s not laughed at, but it’s seen with a tear in the eyes because it’s so anti-humanistic. It’s so anti-humanistic. So with one word, we have failed in Germany with our legislation of liberalising and regulating prostitution, and we made thousands, hundred thousands of girls and women, victims of violence by this legislation. And it’s high time now to change, to change the view, to change the perspective on prostitution to that what it is: it’s pure and simply violence against women. And we cannot support a system which is doing harm to thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands, women and children in prostitution. We must change the system: helping the victims, criminalising the “Johns” who create this demand, and really awareness-raising among the population. And as the end of my talk, I would like to give, as cynical as it may sound, but I want to give the voice to three “Johns”. I’m quoting now from one of the human rights activists, which is also in the Alliance for the Nordic Model. She collects quotes from “Johns”, and I would really like to give a quotation to one of the “Johns”. So let me see where it is. One moment. Here it is. “I booked this animal once” so what I quote is from an Internet forum, because in Germany you can easily access brothels or women in prostitution via the Internet. There are lots of forums where the “Johns” can write about their experiences, or about the women and girls. So, “I booked this animal once. Her apartment stinks of cat piss. Also, the bed was broken and the so-called execution mattress is so filthy that you can catch all kinds of things. She wasn’t shaven, even though I demanded that. Further, she kept trying to get me to pay extra, and I had to keep consulting her boyfriend or her pimp.” So one German sex buyer, or “John” who wrote in one forum. I have another one. “You got young women from Hungary, sometimes so thinly clothed that it amounts to Christian charity to take them inside and warm them up with your body for half an hour or so. The beds are a catastrophe. You can see a trace of the previous guy’s sperm. You can imagine that you’re just picking up a young girl, which is neat.” And the third voice: “Is a whore just a piece of fuck meat? Or does one have to show respect? I’ve been wondering if my approach is the rule. To me, a whore is just a thing that’s there to satisfy me. I do my part by paying. Now, I’ve noticed that especially hobby whores have been getting more bitchy and annoying, while asking for more and more cash. Have any of you noticed the same?” So with these quotes you can easily see that when there is a purchasing act of so-called “sex services”, then there is no eye-level with a human being, with a woman or with a girl. It is just a thing. It’s just an object. So therefore, prostitution can never be a job when there is no human being doing this job, but a thing, a robot, an object. So I want to close my talk with this: Germany, and not only Germany, the whole European Union has to introduce the Nordic Model because all the models, until today, abolition model, so criminalising prostitutes, and liberalising or regulating the prostitution, have failed. So the Nordic Model is the only left of a chance to get gender equality and human rights for women and girls. Thank you.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Inge. What can I say? The whole cruelty of what’s going on, was just described, not by you, but by the facts themselves. So that speaks for itself. Thank you very much for these comprehensive insights. And now we have already a lot of support for Sandra, and many people thank her for her powerful message. So I will go and read more. There are also questions now. For example, “I once read that sexual services are the oldest profession in the world. Would you agree with this statement? And if this is the case, what is the prognosis of addressing demand? How difficult is it to address demand, if it was supposedly always there?” So could you just comment on this? Who would like to start?
BRIAN ISELIN: “Prostitution, the oldest profession in the world” is one of the most ridiculous statements ever, and it’s obviously made up by a man to justify the creation and the continuation of the institution. It’s just patriarchy, right. That’s a statement that comes straight from the mouth of patriarchy. Just because something is, doesn’t mean it always needs to be that way. And the solution, of course, is it comes from the mouth of patriarchy: Dismantle patriarchy. Wherever we see change coming, positive change in this respect, so I’m talking about Sweden, Norway, now Ireland and a few others, wherever you see the Nordic Model being introduced, the Equality Model now it’s being called, there is often this, I use it as a kind of a proxy indicator, the number of women in Parliament, as a proxy indicator. So you can look at the number of women in Parliament in the countries where it’s been introduced. There is a certain reduction of patriarchy in the countries where the Nordic Model is introduced. There’s almost like there’s a tipping point, I think. Germany is like 31 percent. Sweden has 47 percent women in Parliament. Norway is 41 percent. Maybe 40 is the number, I don’t know. But there seems to be a number where you can start to achieve change, dismantling patriarchy, when the men in that society start to believe in the equalities that are needed, and start to believe that prostitution is violence against women. So there seems to be this tipping point. I don’t know whether anybody else has observed such a proxy indicator for it.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you. Somebody else? Otherwise, I have another very interesting question. A question about the language you are using, and maybe that is one of the things the public needs to be more educated about. “I was recently told by a person running an advice centre for women working in prostitution in my city, to please avoid the word prostitution, as it is demeaning. Instead, she advised me to use words like sexual or sex workers. Now I hear a very difficult language here. In your view, what would be an appropriate language to use to talk about this? What would be a language that would help to raise awareness?”Thank you for this question. Who would like to explain or to answer? Sandra, yeah.
SANDRA NORAK: Okay, so that is one point where I was also talking, not a lot, but a little bit in my talk, that we, in Germany, have also a lot of counselling stations using the term “sex workers”, and it’s a “job like any other”. And the problem with this language is that… So I’m just speaking now from Germany because I don’t know about the country where this question came from. But in Germany, we have a very strong pro-prostitution lobby who spread the word that we have to use the word “sex worker” because prostitution is stigmatising. And for all the women I’m working with, it’s completely different, because if you use the word “sex work”, then you are telling this woman who was abused and who experienced a lot of violence in prostitution, that this was just work, you know? And for them, it’s not stigmatised to to be called prostituted women, but for them it is stigmatising to be called sex workers because this hides the violence and the abuse they have gone through in their lives. And it’s making violence invisible because when you call something work, you hide the violence behind this and the actual problem of prostitution. So all the women I know, who have experienced a lot of violence in prostitution, they hate the word sex workers because they don’t feel taken seriously. And they don’t understand that people who use the word sex work, for me and the women I am talking about, they do not really understand the system of prostitution, because as we talked all in our speeches in the last one hour, when you call a system work, where so many people are suffering and experience so much violence, you cannot call this work. So it’s stigmatising to call them sex workers. So I really hate the word sex workers. And if somebody calls me sex worker, then I really feel bad and I really feel stigmatised because this is not what I have experienced. I have experienced trafficking, forced prostitution and prostitution. But I never experienced “work”. This was not work because, as Inge said, it’s neither sex nor work, what you experience there. Yeah.
INGE BELL: Maybe I can add to this as well. Just shortly, and then you Brian. What my best practice is, meanwhile, I always try not to speak about prostitutes, but about women and girls in prostitution, because they are human beings, women and girls in prostitution, and prostitution is the system. So they’re not prostitutes and they’re not characterised by the system. They happen to be in that form of sexual exploitation, which is called prostitution. So women and girls in prostitution. And then there’s this other aspect, sex work. I would never use this as well, neither sex nor work. What I always find very interesting is, for example, one other woman who was a survivor of prostitution, she always says, “Sex should be something very joyful and lustful and for this mutual satisfaction of the people, and as soon as there’s no consent… So when there’s consent, it is sex, okay? But when there is no consent or when the consent has to be paid, then it turns into no consent. But just the paid consent. But paid consent is no consent to sex. It’s the consent to the money. It’s the yes to the money. It’s not the yes to the sex. And a no to the sex is a rape. So it cannot be sex work. It’s rape.” And then the third thing, which I always say when it comes to these terminologies, is, we in Germany we have three words, for example, “Sexarbeit”, “Sklavenarbeit”, “Zwangsarbeit”. So forced labour, slavery labour, and sex work. But it is not work. I mean, you would never say to slavery that it’s slavery work. It’s slavery. You would never say to forced labour in the Nazi regime, for example, you would never say it’s work. It was slavery. It was forced. So this is the same. Prostitution, slavery and forced labour. Brian, the floor is yours. BRIAN ISELIN: I mean you’ve said everything. What I just wanted to say was that I quite often get attacked as a guy having an opinion on this, which is crazy because we created prostitution. But we should be the ones to help dismantle it, and the fact that we’re not is really outrageous. But I quite often get attacked, and one of the things I get attacked about is if I talk about women in prostitution, or women used in prostitution, for example, I often get attacked, and said, “That’s so dismissive of sex workers.” And this happens in particular with audiences in the US, UK and Australia. If you had to narrow down the numbers, these are the countries where it’s really problematic and to be fair, I think it’s actually quite a strategy, from this, as Sandra mentioned, the pro-prostitution lobby. It’s actually a strategy by this school of liberal feminism, which believes in the full decriminalisation. And so they think, or they propose that they’re empowering women by calling them sex workers, and want it to be called a job, want it to be taxed, etc. And yet all the evidence suggests that that’s absolutely a dreadful system. And it diminishes women so dreadfully, and minimises and trivialises the violence against women. And I think you’ll understand, most of you will be familiar with Kathleen Barry. So if you read what she was writing in the 1970s, it was strongly… It was a bit liberal feminism, it was full decriminalisation, it didn’t go as far as saying sex workers, I don’t think. And within about 10 years, she had changed her tune dramatically, saying that allowing the full decriminalisation institutionalises and industrialises the abuse of women. And so you can’t have both. You can’t have a system that says, on the one hand, women can be objectified and used and sold, and on the other side, have women treated well. You will only see the industrialisation of the prostitution of women, if you go down that decriminalisation path. It just makes absolutely no sense to do it. But this liberal feminist school is very strongly using this term sex work and sex worker to marginalise men, actually, and get men out of the debate. And if men leave the debate, I think we’re in trouble, right? I mean, if the men in Sweden weren’t part of the debate, we wouldn’t have the Nordic Model, I don’t think. 41 percent of women in Parliament or 47 percent of women in Parliament now. But if the average Swedish man was not seeing it as violence against women, I think we’d be in trouble with the Nordic Model. It wouldn’t be implemented as well as it has been.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Brian, it’s good to have a guy with us and even if you’re a soldier, a former soldier, so everything what Inge said before, you prove it hasn’t to be this way. There are others out there as well, and that’s good to know. And Lea, you wanted to say. We need you to be unmuted. Wait, Lea.
LEA ACKERMANN: Is that? Yes. When I was in Beijing in the conference, in the Women’s Conference in Beijing (1995), there was a whole procession of comfort women from Japan, because during the war, the Government has selected women to be for the soldier, a comfort. I think it’s so devaluating, it’s a diminishing, not respecting women in the society to say they are just good for comforting the soldier. I think it’s a whole thinking in the community that is influenced by acts like that. And these women were in the Conference in Beijing, and there were a whole procession, and they said, “We are the comfort women. That means we are only there to serve men.” And a society where only the men are the masters, and the women are to serve them, that is not the society we wish in our countries, and that is always not respect for the women, for all women, not only for them who are a misused, but for all women. SR. MIRJAM BEIKE: I’m already looking at the time, but I have one question here, and maybe everybody of you could say one short opinion on this, as this is the real golden question. “Of course, reduce the number of buyers buying. But how? So we hear a lot about it, and many agencies are talking about demand. But I still have to get the golden formula of how to tackle demand.” What would you say? Inge, you? INGE BELL: Me first? Okay. As Albert Schweitzer once said, “Even the smallest, the little what you can do, helps. Even the small steps helps”. I only know the German saying, it’s “Das Wenige, das du tun kannst, ist viel.” Even the small steps help. So what you can do is very practical. First of all, you can write to your politicians. I mean, hopefully you are living in a democracy. So go and talk to your politicians and say, “No, we don’t want this to happen in our country because prostitution is not gender equality, will always hamper gender equality, will always contradict gender equality, and is always violence against women and girls”. So go and talk to your politicians. Go and look for where you can unite and where you can approach, not as an individual, but as a group to raise your voice. Go and speak to the media. Support the NGOs who are doing all this grassroot work, like, for example, SOLWODI, the organisations which do provide shelters, and support the local organisations, you certainly have in each and every country, like where Sandra is putting her effort and her power into SISTERS. So survivors of prostitution, survivors of human trafficking, they need help. They need, as Sandra pointed it out, you go out of the prostitution system, of the exploitation physically, but you are still heavily burdened with psychological issues. So these people need help. And raise awareness about the topic in your families, within your friends and acquaintances. So speak about the topic in order that it comes out of this “Oh-la-la” taboo zone, “Prostitution, oh my God, voluntarily work.” So there’s a lot you can do. Raising awareness in your field, in your friends, families and so on. Politicians, Churches, organisations, a whole bunch of things.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Lea, you are the next please.
LEA ACKERMANN: I would say sometimes in the earlier years, a very big newspaper, made an advertising for sun, sand and sex, and they were making that in the news like that. So that was my first protest against that. And everywhere I shouted and said, “That is not allowed.”You would not write to them, and so on. I think it’s small things. We have to be very careful not to allow all the small talks, jokes about that. Not accept that. I don’t know about everywhere. We are not in all the different places, but in the places we are, it must be clear that we are against this behaviour against women. And prostitution must be seen as a criminal act. And of course, when I have an organisation who fight against it, I would like that you help me to help, now it’s the children, but it’s very important that the children are not misused, children on the street. And I always think each Government must see that the children who live on the street, who live, survive, goes grabbing and stealing, when they are big, grown ups, there will be not a good society to bring them up. So every Government has interest to give the children a chance, so the society has also the chance. That is the argument that must be seen for everyone. I would like to live in a society where it’s not the criminals who have the power.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Lea. And the next is Sandra.
SANDRA NORAK: I am the next?
MIRJAM BEIKE: Yes. So I think the question was how to tackle demand. I think in Germany it’s the problem that we have this liberal prostitution law, which is promoting demand because it says that prostitution is a job like any other. And of course, when you say it’s a job, then you have a high demand. So our community, our society, is also socialised in the point of view that demand is nothing bad, but demand is something normal, like as I said before, you can buy a pack of cigarettes, or you can buy a human being. And so to tackle the demand, it first needs the consciousness of the people that this is wrong what they do, that they are destroying lives, that most of the women are not there by free choice. And when they are there by free choice, they have experienced abuse before. So that is not “sex work”, but the prostitution system is a whole circle of violence and abuse. And you have to enlighten society about that. And also implementing the Nordic Model, which tackles demand, where buying “sexual services” is a crime, because in Germany I see no other way to reduce demand, to tackle demand, because if you can buy, if it’s allowed, to buy a pack of cigarettes, you will buy this pack of cigarettes. And men will not stop buying the bodies of women, as long as it is not forbidden. So the very first step is to not allow buying sex, and then also to educate. In Sweden, they have programs, also in France, that if police is catching a sex buyer, he has to go to a program where he is told what he does wrong, what is the consequence of what he did, what’s the story of a person who is in prostitution. She is maybe trafficked. So it needs also education then on the buyer side. Yes. SR.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you, Sandra. Now Brian, how to tackle demand?
BRIAN ISELIN: Raise our children to know that consent to access their bodies can never be bought. There’s lots of other things we can do, of course, the Nordic Model is why we’re here: so imprisonment, criminal records, sex offender lists, education and public information. On the law enforcement side: breaking communication between buyers and sellers, increasing the distance, reducing the convenience of it. More women in Parliament, as I said before. That seems to be the tipping point. Tell men it’s not okay, because as soon as you legalise something, you tell them that it’s okay. And I just want to close on one point. There’s my favourite saying from the Roman poet, Virgil, was that “from a single crime, know a Nation”. I think that there’s actually no better test of the quality of a Nation, of a society, than how they address the trafficking of women for prostitution. It is a litmus.
MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you very much. So as we are already a little bit over time, I would close this round and give back to Michel.
MICHEL VEUTHEY: Okay, yes. At the end of this first webinar, allow me to thank not only Sr. Mirjam, but also all speakers and organisers, and including our webmaster Yves Reichenbach, and my assistant, Clara Iseppi. My gratitude to all speakers for the clear, powerful statements, and even moving testimonies. We shall use your strong arguments to advocate for the adoption and implementation of the Nordic Model in Germany and in Europe. We shall meet again next Tuesday, the 20th of April, at the same time, to continue the discussion and see the importance of supply chain control and the role of consumers in relation to forced labour. And the last of these three webinars, on the 27th of April, shall deal with the role of technology in human trafficking. In the meantime, I do encourage you to visit the www.christusliberat.org website, where you will find a treasure chest of best practices and access to a free online course on human trafficking for helpers and the opportunity to register to all future webinars. Goodbye now. I wish you a good week and thank you to all for being with us tonight. I was very happy to see you again, Sr. Lea, and to know Inge Bell, and to know Sandra Norak. And of course, our good friend Brian Iselin is always a gem of a speaker and a very powerful speaker and we shall listen to him, listen to Sr. Miriam, again. And again, have a good night and thanks to everyone. Goodbye.
BRIAN ISELIN: Thanks, Michel. Take care. Nice to meet you all.
MICHEL VEUTHEY: Yeah. SR. MIRJAM BEIKE: Thank you.