“I thought it was an April Fool’s joke when the news emerged in our Facebook group” says Ghent sex worker Véronique. Véronique believes it’s above all important because it will make a distinction between sex workers, who love their job and give it their all, and people-traffickers and forced prostitution.
Wendy Gabriëls of Violett, an organisation that defends the interests of sex workers and provides support is chuffed too: “Taking this sector out of the crime field is good news”.
Speaking in parliament Mr Van Quickenborne noted that sex work is punishable by law, but is tolerated and some municipalities even levy taxes on it. It’s hypocritical and dangerous because it leaves sex workers in a grey zone where they become the victims of exploitation.”
Véronique points to the tax on rooms where sex workers ply their trade: “You can call Antwerp the biggest pimp” she says.
The justice minister added that when sex work is decriminalised a social job status will be introduced and sex work will become an everyday job”.
Daan Bauwens of Utsopi, an organisation defending the rights of sex workers, sees many benefits: “Independent sex workers will be able to open a bank account, sign insurance and other contracts. That’s all not possible at the minute.”