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'Selling sex doesn't make you an unfit parent'

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'Selling sex doesn't make you an unfit parent'
16:00 CEST+02:00
The murder of a Swedish sex worker has garnered attention across the globe, and has activist Pye Jacobsson questioning Sweden's prostitution laws and the misconceptions surrounding the line of work.

Eva-Marree, a 27-year-old sex worker also known as Petite Jasmine, lost custody of her two children to her ex-boyfriend, 31, in a district court last year. She was stabbed to death last Thursday when she went to see her children after her ex brought a knife with him to the handover.

Now, sex activists around the world have united in an attempt to shed light on the stigmas attached to sex workers.

"I've never seen a murder have such an affect on the community," said Pye Jacobsson, a co-ordinator for Rose Alliance, which works for prostitutes' rights across the world.

Many of the sex workers, including 24-year sex work veteran Jacobsson, 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.

"It's absurd that sex workers don't have more protection, and their reputation suffers from the victimization. Jasmine suffered from the reputation and from someone spreading lies about her," explained Jacobsson, who had professional ties with Jasmine through Rose Alliance, where the mother of two was a board member.

Jasmine told her colleagues in the Rose Alliance that the district court took away her children because she "romanticized sex work" and that it deemed her an unfit parent. Social services received a tip-off suggesting the she was using drugs and drinking in front of her children. There were even suggestions that the 27-year-old was working from home, Jacobsson told The Local.

"This couldn't be further from the truth. For one thing, she hardly touched alcohol, but also, she was an upper-class sex worker. She would be coming into Stockholm from Västerås to luxury hotels, just once or twice a week, for a fee of around 4,000 kronor ($610) per hour," she added.

"She was doing it all for her kids. And she enjoyed doing it. You tell me another job where a mother can earn 6,000 or 7,000 kronor a week and still remain a stay-at-home mum."

While Jacobsson said the blame could be directed anywhere from the woman's "lunatic" ex, to the police's lack of action given his troubled past, or even the Swedish system's lack of help for the killer himself, she said the lessons to be learnt from the incident are simple.

"Firstly, you can't assume that people selling sex aren't fit parents, and secondly, everyone deserves equal protection from the law. Journalists, for example, have all kinds of rights. Why can't we have them too?"

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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