Could criminalizing clients of sex workers make sex work safer?

The first step for a safe and healthy sex industry is a government that takes responsibility to create good conditions in which sex workers and their clients can meet each other.

In an article featured in the Dutch newspaper NRC, Assistant Professor Silke Heumann and Marie-Louise Janssen (University of Amsterdam) write about the recent bill passed by the Dutch Senate, the Criminalization Act of abuse of prostitutes who are victims of human trafficking. The bill proposes to outlaw abuse against sex workers who are victims of human trafficking. 

Among its contents, the bill states that clients who are aware of, or have reason to suspect that someone has been forced into prostitution, could receive a hefty fine or face a prison sentence of up to four years. But, as Heumann and Janssen suggest, the bill fails to reach the root of issues in the sex industry: safeguarding sex workers against trafficking and reducing the stigma of paid sex work. 

In the article linked below, Heumann and Janssen detail how we can reenvision sex work as a tool for human exploration and how the bill creates unclear definitions of who is a victim of sex trafficking and unfairly criminalizes the clients of sex workers. 

Read the full article

Head on over to the NRC website to read the following article, available in Dutch. We recommend using the Google Chrome browser to translate the following article for English readers.

Assistant professor