From a 2002 series of posters in a campaign coordinated by the Swedish government. Photo: The Swedish Government
Recently, catching up on email after a few days of hiking in the wilderness, my heart leapt at a headline “French minister seeks abolition of prostitution in France and Europe.” She is Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of women’s rights. The new French campaign to abolish prostitution will have its naysayers: “Impossible!” “too idealistic,” “so utopian it will never happen!” And, of course, those who promote the sex industries will insist that “sex is work and women’s choice.” I heard those refrains in 1991 when, as executive director and co-founder of the UN Human Rights NGO, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, I began to launch a global campaign to criminalize prostitution customers, otherwise known as johns or punters.
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