Malta should make it a crime to pay for sex while decriminalising those who are prostituted, the Democratic Party has said.
In a statement, PD joined the ranks of activists calling for the country to adopt the so-called Nordic model of prostitution, which seeks to deter demand for paid sex while making it easier for sex workers to receive social support and help to find alternative work.
The government has said that it is open to reforming existing prostitution laws, although it has not said what form revised laws should take.
PD said prostitution was a form of gender-based violence, and that complete legalisation would exacerbate problems rather than solving them.
"Research indicates that those involved in prostitution usually do so either due to underlying problems such as previous sexual abuse, coercion, drug or usury problems or as a pragmatic economic response to a limited number of options," the party said.
They noted that sex workers were often vulnerable, poor and subjective to physical and emotional violence, and that prostitution was closely linked to human and drug trafficking.
PD argued that introducing a Nordic legal model should involve a public awareness campaign to discourage demand for sex workers, as well as specialised training for police and the judiciary and strategies through JobsPlus to help sex workers find alternative jobs.
They insisted that the prostitution of minors had to be heavily penalised, even if the age of consent was lowered from 18.
The party invited any interested individuals or organisations that support human rights and oppose gender-based violence to send in their feedback on email@example.com.
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