Gentlemen's clubs "glamorise prostitution", are part and parcel of the sex trade and should be closed, a leading gender equality advocate has said. 

Slamming the controversial venues as "prostitution establishments," lawyer and Women's Rights Foundation director Lara Dimitrijevic says the clubs "send the message that it's OK for men to pay money for their own sexual gratification."

In a Times Talk interview, Dr Dimitrijevic says she and her colleagues are "very concerned" that the government is talking about regulating gentlemen's clubs without tying that effort to a reform of prostitution laws. 

"Once the government has committed itself to discuss the issue of prostitution, the regularisation of gentlemen's clubs must be discussed within that area," she tells Bertrand Borg. 

READ: 'No one enters and remains in prostitution voluntarily'

Dr Dimitrijevic would like Malta to adapt its legislative approach towards prostitution and move towards the so-called Nordic model, which makes it a crime to buy sex but not to sell it. The intention is to suppress demand for paid sex while making it easier for sex workers to access support and move into safer, less exploitative work.

"Research has shown that legalisation [of prostitution] does not work," Dr Dimitrijevic argues, with countries which gone down that route reporting higher rates of prostitution and sex trafficking. 

She concedes that the Nordic model is not a panacea to the problems caused by the sex trade - "is there one way how to stop prostitution?" she asks rhetorically - but insists it is the best approach. 

"We must send a very clear message that we do not permit the buying of sex; we do not permit violence against women." 

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