Protect prostitutes, punish clients, says Vatican

 Nations should protect women from the violence and "modern slavery" of prostitution and punish men who use them, a new document released by the Vatican's department on migrant issues says. Describing the section on the liberation of street women, in the document 'Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road' Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino said on Tuesday: "The Church has the pastoral responsibility to defend and promote the human dignity of those exploited by prostitution, and to work towards their liberation, providing economic, educational and formative support to this end. She ... must also prophetically denounce the injustices and violence perpetrated against street women and invite people of good will to commit themselves to the defence of their human dignity, ... putting an end to sexual exploitation." The document says: "The victims of prostitution are human beings, who in many cases cry out for help, to be freed from slaveryThe customers too are people with deeply rooted problems, and in a certain sense are also slaves... An effective measure towards cultural change with respect to prostitution could derive from associating criminal law with social condemnation." Archbishop Agostino Marchetto told a press conference: "We think there should be not only protection of women but also a punishment for the clients." He said the Vatican would push for legislation along the Swedish model, which penalises customers with jail sentences and fines based on their salaries. The section of the document that dealt with prostitution, called "Pastoral Ministry for the Liberation of Street Women", said men who frequent prostitutes should be aware of the Church's "clear condemnation of their sins and the injustice they commit". Clients of prostitutes are not punished in many countries, including Italy. Italian law effectively turns a blind eye to prostitution, punishing only "exploiters of prostitution", such as pimps. "Prostitution is a form of modern slavery", the document says, noting that the number of prostitutes in the world has risen dramatically due to complex social, economic and cultural reasons. "It is important to recognise that sexual exploitation and prostitution linked to people trafficking are acts of violence, which constitute an offence to human dignity and a serious violation of fundamental rights," it said. The document said the Church wanted "application of laws that protect women from the evil of prostitution and people trafficking" but also effective measures against humiliating portrayals of women in advertising. Source: VIS

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