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Sex Clients Won’t Be Criminalised Under Malta’s Planned Law As Reforms Secretary Ditches ‘Nordic Model’

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A proposed law to decriminalise prostitution in Malta won’t include the criminalisation of sex clients, parliamentary secretary for equality and reforms Rosianne Cutajar has confirmed.

Cutajar told Lovin Malta that an analysis of a consultation document on prostitution reforms, launched by her predecessor Julia Farrugia Portelli, has been finalised and will be presented to Cabinet shortly.

“I believe that we need to build on the experiences of other countries but develop our piece of legislation, rather than copying one model or the other,” she said.

“One definite principle will be the decriminalization of prostitution (loitering) as regards the prostitute. The legal position of a client buying a sexual service will remain as it is today, i.e. the client would not be committing a crime. The reform should also introduce a programme to assist prostitutes with a background of social problems who end up in this circle.”

“Prostitution is a reality for some individuals, either out of choice or because they have no other alternative.”

“We can either close an eye as if nothing is happening or pave the way for tangible action. I choose the latter. We will not tolerate human trafficking and exploitation under any circumstance.”

Back in September 2019, Farrugia Portelli launched a public consultation on reforms in human trafficking and prostitution law which clearly stated that prostitutes should be decriminalised and their criminal records wiped clean but which left open whether their clients should be criminalised or not.

A group of NGOs and activists has urged Malta to adopt the ‘Nordic model’, which has been utilised by Sweden, Norway and Iceland and which criminalises sex clients. However, others, notably government adviser Robert Musumeci and Malta Science and Technology Council chairperson Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, have advised against it.

Prime Minister Robert Abela today 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.

“We have sent prostitutes to jail instead of helping them with their serious social problems.”

“In one case, a woman was given two sentences in one day, one of which was a nine-month imprisonment term. She started prostitution at 12 years old, she knew no better, she has a daughter and was reforming but yet we sent her to jail.”

“I don’t understand why the prostitute’s client doesn’t get punished but the prostitute gets sent to jail. We cannot accept this anymore and we need to decriminalise prostitution to address this injustice. We need the courage to change these things because we can’t allow these people to keep on suffering.”

“We also need to create programmes to help prostitutes leave prostitution and find a better future. While we talk about economy, we also go down to the lower levels, because we’re a government with a social and socialist soul.”

Although Abela didn’t comment on the Nordic Model during his speech, he personally came out against it during an interview on Newsbook last January.

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