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Sex workers cry foul over activist's death

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12:17 CEST+02:00
The murder of a Swedish sex workers' rights activist, who was stabbed by her ex when she went to see her children after losing custody because she "romanticized prostitution", has sex activists worldwide up in arms.

Eva-Marree, 27, lost custody of her two children to her ex-boyfriend, 31, in a district court last year. She was stabbed when she went to see her children at an office belonging to local authorities, as her ex had brought a knife with him to the handover.

The victim, who blogged about sex workers on njutningtillsalu.com (Pleasure For Sale), was an outspoken critic of Sweden's attitude toward prostitution, writing on her blog that all abusive sexual practices - such as rape and pedophilia - were already covered by Sweden's penal code.

She last tweeted from her handle @petitejasmine on June 17th, urging her followers to sign a sex workers' petition in neighbouring Norway. She was a board member of the Rose Alliance, which works for prostitutes' rights across the world.

"Our board member, fierce activist and friend Petite Jasmine got brutually (sic) murdered yesterday," the network stated on its Facebook page, before claiming that Eva-Marree had lost her children due to her line of work and her beliefs.

"Several years ago she lost custody of her children as she was considered to be an unfit parent due to being a sex worker(...) They told her she didn't know what was good for her and that she was "romanticizing" prostitution, they said she lacked insight and didn't realize sex work was a form of self-harm," the statement read.

The victim's mother told Expressen that her daughter's ex was suspicious and had stalked Eva-Marree in the months leading up to her death. She accused him of taking note of car registration plates outside Eva-Marree's home in Västerås, central Sweden, to check up on who was visiting her.

The case has provoked the ire of sex workers across the world, many of whom are critical of keeping prostitution illegal. Sweden, which outlawed the purchase rather than the sale of sex fifteen years ago, has come under intense scrutiny for its legislation. While some observers have said it is ground-breaking in shifting responsibility for prostitution onto the demand rather than the supply side, others have argued that the law has simply forced sex workers underground, where they are still offered no protection.

"The international debate around the Nordic model, the criminalising of buying sex which has been enforced in Sweden and other countries, meanwhile, intensified this week following the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old sex worker and activist in Sweden known as Petite Jasmine," the UK Guardian wrote on Monday, in connection with the ongoing legalize-or-criminalize debate following an unsuccessful attempt to get Scottish parliamentarians to adopt the Swedish model.

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"The death of Jasmine is a real indictment of the Swedish policy – it feels like a dam has burst," George Lewis, of the Scottish NGO Women's Support Project that works against men's violence towards women, told the newspaper.

TT/The Local/at

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