A new support service will look to protect, educate and smash prejudices against Malta’s sex workers.
Aptly named the “Sex Workers Support Service”, the programme will be manned by specialised people to provide safety assessments, community outreach, counselling and long-term care plans for prostitutes on the island.
Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms Rosianne Cutajar warned that prevailing prejudice against sex workers meant they aren’t reaching out for the help they need.
“We need to fight stigma towards people in sex work because they find it difficult to seek help or report abuse,” Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms Rosianne Cutajar explained.
Family Minister Michael Falzon added that Malta needs to create an environment that promoted dignity for everyone.
The agreement was signed between the Human Rights Directorate and the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) while the national agency for children, Aġenzija Appoġġ, will create the service.
Reforms to prostitution laws kicked off last year, but the question of sex clients has split opinion. A proposed framework would see prostitution in Malta decriminalise and won’t include the criminalisation of sex clients.
However, a group of NGOs and activists urged Malta to adopt the ‘Nordic model’, which has been utilised by Sweden, Norway and Iceland and which criminalises sex clients. Others, notably government adviser Robert Musumeci and Malta Science and Technology Council chairperson Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, have advised against it.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had even delivered an impassioned speech in favour of decriminalising prostitution, warning that the law is ultimately punishing victims of social problems, sometimes even sending them to jail.
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