A MALTA women’s charity has reported a spike in migrants being exploited into street prostitution during the pandemic.
Lara Dimitrijevic, director of Maltas’ Women’s Rights Foundations, said the closure of massage parlours due to the pandemic has forced vulnerable migrant women exploited into prostitution to operate on the streets.
In a recent case, two Chinese women were brought to Malta to work as massage therapists. Criminals confiscated their passports taken from them on arrival. A Maltese court heard that the women lived in deprived conditions in the same parlours where they were sexually exploited by clients. The case highlighted the tourist-friendly country’s rising prostitution problem
The Women’s Rights Foundation, an NGO that seeks to empower vulnerable women through legal aid, noted that the pandemic had caused a spike in street prostitution with a particular rise in cases involving migrant women.
“These women are being forced into prostitution. They are being trafficked. They are vulnerable since, in some cases, there is a language barrier, they are not aware of their surroundings and do not know how to seek help,” she said.
“Not all women who are in prostitution do so by ‘choice’. Some are trafficked and forced into it. We cannot address this with one measure,” Dimitirijevich told the Times of Malta.
Malta’s cabinet is currently examining a proposal to decriminalise prostitution in the country, which some activists believe could improve the safety and rights of sex workers.
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