Fans of human rights, rejoice! After much hand wringing over whether a coalition of paternalistic abolitionists and clueless celebrities was going to ruin it for everyone, Amnesty International has officially committed to the fight to fully decriminalize sex work around the world.
In a historic vote announced Tuesday, delegates voted to adopt a policy aptly titled “POLICY ON STATE OBLIGATIONS TO RESPECT, PROTECT, AND FULFILL THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF SEX WORKERS” (emphasis theirs). You can read the whole thing here, but basically it acknowledges that in order to protect the human rights of sex workers — their right to safety, healthcare and housing, their right to freedom from discrimination, their right to not be abused by police and the rescue industry, and yes, even their right to exit the industry and enter another if they wish — decriminalization is the only way to go. It also reaffirms a commitment to fight sex trafficking (as Amnesty does all human trafficking) and the exploitation of underage children.
Via press release:
Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse. Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
In an accompanying video (above), representatives of Amnesty go over a few of their main points, explaining clearly and concisely why this measure is necessary. They explain how criminalizing clients makes sex workers less safe, how cops going after brothels and “pimps” often targets sex workers who work together, and how there’s no evidence to support the idea that de-criminalizing the sex industry as a whole increases instances of trafficking. If anything, it helps trafficking victims, because those in the sex trade are much more willing to help ferret out abusers and exploiters when they aren’t deathly afraid of the police. I’d also like to add that feeding more people into the racist, classist and broken prison systems of the world has not been shown to help anyone but the people who run privatized prisons.
Whether or not you think sex work should exist, the fact is that it will be around for as long as people are exchanging money for services, so in the meantime we need to protect the human rights of those in the sex trade. If you want fewer people to enter into said trade — keeping in mind that for many, it’s exactly what they want to be doing, while for others it might be just okay and for yet others it might be terrible — you can push for policies that reduce stigma for former sex workers and promote economic and gender equality around the world. (Another fun idea is to abolish the inherently exploitative wage system altogether, but that’s a topic for another post.) I just hope that someday, the vocal minority of bourgeois “feminists” who want to take a moral stand at the expense of people’s lives pull their heads out of their own asses long enough to see reason. Luckily, the world seems to be moving forward with or without them.
Amnesty International Votes To Fight For Decriminalization Of Sex Work