During 2014 and 2015, women’s organisations and crisis centres worldwide, including survivors of prostitution, front-line services, women’s rights activists, female researchers, academics, doctors, journalists, writers and more, condemned Amnesty International’s (AI) draft, and later, their policy on “sex work”, which advocates for the full decriminalization of the sex industry to governments worldwide. These women’s organisations united in solidarity, to instead, support the Nordic model of prostitution by way of the release of petitions, including;
* Melissa Farley’s press release and petition (a research and clinical psychologist, and founder of Prostitution Research and Education), signed by 220 scholars and researchers from 20 countries who made the following joint statement regarding prostitution policy and Amnesty International’s policy supporting decriminalized prostitution.
“We are scholars and researchers who support the Nordic model law on prostitution… In light of the documented psychological and physical harms caused by the sex trade, we oppose the proposed policy of Amnesty International, which would decriminalize pimps and sex buyers, and which fails to offer alternatives to prostitution. This policy would promote and expand the sex trade and has been shown to be associated with increased trafficking and increased prostitution of children and vulnerable adults based on race/ethnicity, sex, and poverty.”
* Coalition Against Trafficking of Women International‘s open letter and petition stating, “Medical professionals, the testimonies of survivors and extensive research all demonstrate that the sex industry is predicated on dehumanization, degradation and gender violence that can cause life-long physical and psychological harm to those exploited at the hands of pimps, traffickers and buyers of sex (or “johns”). Prostitution is a harmful practice steeped in gender and economic inequalities that leaves a devastating impact on those sold and exploited in the sex trade.” And that the adoption of “any policy that supports the full decriminalization of the sex industry… would, in effect, strengthen the pillars of a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the most marginalized and vulnerable populations for commercial sexual exploitation.”
And by the release of official statements, media releases, articles, interviews and blogs.
* Eaves for Women response to Amnesty Consultation on prostitution, “An approach that decriminalises and/or legalises the entirety of the industry would not have any cause to invest in identifying whether women wish to exit or not and in supporting them to do so. Nor would it have any cause to identify those at risk of entering prostitution and seek to provide viable alternatives that may prevent them from entering. Likewise such an approach would not encourage any research in tracking women’s routes in and out of prostitution, how to support women and in what becomes of women after “exit” or in the wake of legislative change. On the contrary, the logical progression would be to make work in the sex industry mainstream which could lead to women and girls being required to enter prostitution or face benefit sanctions. Indeed, we already see job centres advertising such roles and only if it is challenged is it then withdrawn as an “error”. Currently the DWP work programme includes subsidies to employers who take on young unemployed and these young people may be “sanctioned” if they refuse to take up such options…
“…An approach that only focuses on the fact that prostitution exists is a massive poverty of ambition and abdication of responsibility to the women and girls around the world who may look to women’s human rights activists not only to try to help them while in it but actually to fight for their rights to better options.”
* Prostitution survivor Rachel Moran “…(Amnesty International’s) recently leaked “Draft Policy on Sex Work”… refuses to recognise that commercial sexual exploitation is a highly gendered abusive practice, and in numerous places throughout the document, Amnesty considers recommending the decriminalisation of punters, pimps, brothel owners and others who exploit women for financial gain or sexual gratification in the global sex trade.
“Where prostitution has been given the government’s stamp of approval and repackaged as legitimate “sex work”, there is no onus on governments to provide exit strategies – any more than they’d be expected to provide exit strategies for women in nursing, hairdressing or childcare. Women like this are simply abandoned by the state.”
* Sex Trafficking Survivors United – “It was shocking for us to see Amnesty’s suggestion that it is a “human right” for well off, powerful (mostly white) men to purchase the bodies of the younger, poorer and more vulnerable. We found it especially cruel that Amnesty says prostitution is a choice. As all survivors know, people end up in prostitution because they have no other choices, and are the victims of coercion, fraud, abuse and violence.”
* Open letter to Amnesty International from an Indigenous woman – “In Stolen Sisters, you pointed out that previous physical or sexual trauma pushes young indigenous people into prostitution. As a front-line anti-violence worker, I am well aware of the profound harm incest and childhood sexual abuse can have on women in prostitution. When the statistics tell us that 84% of prostituted women in Canada have experienced incest or childhood sexual abuse, the connection between the two is crystal clear. Why are you so blind to this reality?
“Prostitution is classist, racist and sexist. You’re familiar with those concepts, right? When an institution such as prostitution disproportionally targets poor women of colour, the intersectionality between these oppressions is obvious. With your new policy, however, you’ve decided to side with the rich, mostly white, men of the world who buy and sell women… Lesson #1: For Aboriginal women, it is our human right to live happy lives free from violence, exploitation, prostitution and poverty. Lesson #2: For Aboriginal women, it is our human right to live without fear that men will abuse us, rape us, steal us from our lands and sell our bodies. Lesson #3: For Aboriginal women, it is our human right to have unfeathered access to our lands, cultures, languages and traditions. Prostitution is not a tradition of our people. Final Lesson: Native women deserve better than prostitution. All my relations, An indigenous woman.”
* Help Collective for Sexually Exploited Women – (Collectif d’Aide aux Femmes Exploitées Sexuellement – CAFES): An open letter to Amnesty International: “Although you are adamant about wishing to avoid this industry’s victimization of anyone, you ignore the words of those who have escaped it and know that regulating violence is impossible. You will not succeed in eliminating trafficking and abuse of people caught in the industry by defending those who exploit them, but you pretend to believe you can so as not to lose your generous donors. This attitude is unworthy of an organization that deems itself a human rights advocate.”
* SPACE International public statement – “We object in every way to the message and tone of this document, beginning with its title which, by framing prostitution as ‘Sex Work’, obscures the very nature of prostitution itself. Prostitution is abusive and exploitative sexual violence against humans, most often women and girls, carried out by other humans, usually grown men, who are in positions of relative social, racial and financial privilege to the human beings whom they buy for sexual use and abuse.”
* The Sexual Violence Centre in Cork has “withdrawn its support from Amnesty following a decision by director Mary Crilly to email the organisation yesterday cancelling its membership.
* Dublin Rape Crisis Centre echoed Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre’s criticism of the Amnesty move, with chief executive Ellen O’Malley Dunlop stating, “[it] goes against everything Amnesty ever stood for”.
* India’s victims of prostitution and poverty alliance (VOPPA) and survivor speak, Maine, US speak out to Amnesty International – “We are members of the Victims of Prostitution and Poverty Alliance in India. We would like Amnesty International to include our right not to be prostituted in their upcoming resolution. We are from the most marginalized section of society. We are poor, female and low-caste, often from groups labeled as nomadic tribes under British colonialism and from minority religions.We would like Amnesty to recognize that our prostitution is an absence of choice and not a choice. We request you as Amnesty India to take into account the lived experiences of the most marginalized low-caste and poor women and girls in India who want protection from our exploiters, not their impunity. We want you to call on states to invest in our basic needs. Our basic needs are our “human rights”…
…We are kept out of school, sold into child marriage, domestic servitude and child labour and then finally pimped into prostitution. In prostitution we live in debt bondage, with our debt increasing, not our income as we move into our twenties. We are finally thrown out when we are in our thirties and no longer commercially viable. Our old pension is disease, trauma and the multiple wounds due to the violence done to our bodies by pimps and clients. The pimps beat us when we say no to standing for long hours on the street, or don’t want additional customers in the same night. The customers are buying violence -they stub cigarette butts out on us, push rods into our bodies, slap us, piss on us, break our arms and punch us… In the guise of protecting our rights from police harassment and detention, your resolution is giving impunity to our imprisoners.”.
* European Women’s Lobby – “Voting yes to the decriminalisation of prostitution would be legitimizing an industry predicated on the sexual exploitation of women and children. Such a move would irreparably damage Amnesty International’s credibility on gender equality and with prostitution survivors, women migrants, indigenous women, minority groups and anti-trafficking movements.”
* Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women -International – “A vote calling for legalizing pimping would in effect support gender apartheid, in which some women in society can demand protection from rape, discrimination and sexual harassment, while others, the most vulnerable among us, are instead set aside for consumption by men and for the profit of their pimps. This is far from what Eleanor Roosevelt envisioned for the world when she penned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
* The Collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter – “We strongly urge you to retract the resolution on “sex work” that was voted in this morning, August 11th, 2015. We are extremely alarmed by the disregard of mounting criticism by feminists, survivors of prostitution, anti-violence workers, abolitionists and other allies in the fight for women’s liberation.”
* Women’s Aid federations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, (joint statement) – “[We] oppose the decision taken by Amnesty International to support the full decriminalisation of prostitution. We believe this policy effectively legitimises abuse perpetrated by pimps, traffickers and exploiters, and sends a message to men and boys that they are entitled to access and abuse women’s bodies.”
* Swanee Hunt, Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy, Senior Advisor at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard Kennedy School, founded Demand Abolition – “I find no logical or ethical basis for the view that pimps’ and buyers’ rights trump the right not to be exploited when you’re scared, poor, and have suffered all kinds of abuse. Decriminalizing commercial sex overall isn’t reducing harm, it’s endorsing a system that exploits untold numbers of people worldwide.”
* Suzzan Blac, surrealist,author,survivor,speaker,research source and advocate against child and adult abuse – “Amnesty International – You have demonstrated today, that you have ignored and dismissed the countless victims and survivors of sex trafficking. And that you have assigned girls and women a second class status and you have jeopardised millions more vulnerable women and children, who will be at greater risk at the hands of flesh traders and buyers across the globe. Your actions and watching you all celebrate with your glasses of champagne today, have caused myself and many others who were forced by pimps into prostitution, utter distress, disbelief, anger and emotions that triggered and exacerbated our traumas, beyond words.”
* Feminism and human rights – “It is with great concern, we receive the news that Amnesty International today has voted to adopt a policy, which supports the violations committed by the prostitution industry, and which strikes at the heart of the human rights of women and girls. We reconfirm our commitment to continue the struggle against prostitution of women and girls, and against those – pimps, prostitution buyers and traffickers – who hold up and profit from this form of sexualised violence and oppression directed against women and girls.”
* Prostitution survivor Rebecca Mott – “To say that hell is ok, is to say we really don’t give a shit about the welfare of the prostituted. That is the bottom line, Amnesty with this terrible policy, you have shown your hand. You really don’t give a shit about the basic human rights of the prostituted.
* Janice G. Raymond the former co-director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) – “The misbegotten Amnesty policy, as voted on August 11, 2015, may protect sex workers and their allies, a relatively privileged minority of women and some men who seem to shill for the sex industry on websites and social media. However, it doesn’t protect the millions of women made vulnerable and marginalized by class, financial disadvantage, race, homelessness, war and conflict, and past sexual abuse who are caught in systems of prostitution and for whom there are few exits.”
* Simone Watson Director of NorMAC and prostitution survivor, and Bronwyn Williams Member of NorMAC Australia – “The policy document acknowledges that ‘systemic factors and personal circumstances related to poverty, discrimination and gender inequality can have a bearing on some individuals’ decisions to do sex work’, but insists that sex workers have ‘agency’ and ‘choice’ when entering sex work. Apart from the fact that most, not ‘some’ people (mostly women) enter prostitution because they have no other option, Amnesty’s glib recognition of their ‘agency’ is patronising in the extreme. They’re saying to the thousands of women forced into prostitution by these circumstances that even though they are poor, and suffering discrimination, at least they have agency.”
* Heather Mallick Columnist – “Amnesty’s media release, which skates around every mention of buyers or pimps, explains it doesn’t protect “abusive or exploitive” pimps. So presumably just the honey-hearted ones then.”
* National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) – “Denounces this decision as irresponsible advocacy in favor of a system that does immense and indelible harm to women, children, and men around the world. Amnesty International claims to “campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.” Yet, decriminalization of brothel-keeping and soliciting is a gift to pimps, sex traffickers, and sex buyers that enshrines in law a right to buy and sell other human beings. Such laws do not protect the human rights of persons in prostitution, but guarantee that their dehumanization and exploitation will continue.”
* Karen Ingala Smith, founder of #CountingDeadWomen and CEO of nia, London-based domestic and sexual violence charity working to end violence against women and girls but writing here in a personal capacity – “Prostitution is not safe for women. Women who sell sex face regular physical and sexual violence. More than half of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been raped and/or sexually assaulted – the vast majority of these assaults committed by sex buyers (Hester & Westmarland, 2004). Last year, 2014, six women who sell sex were murdered in the UK: Maria Duque-Tunjano, 48; Karolina Nowikiewicz, 25; Rivka Holder, 55; Yvette Hallsworth, 36; Lidia Pascale, 26 and Luciana Maurer, 23. They were all killed by johns, that is by men who buy sex.
“Prostitution is often framed in the context of women’s choices, those of us who oppose prostitution accused of denying women’s agency, their capacity to choose and their right to do so. But a choice based on necessity, on a lack of viable alternatives isn’t really a choice. Five of the six women above were not born in the UK, coming from Colombia, Poland, Israel and two from Romania. The only UK born woman had a problem with substance use. Poor women, migrant women and women with problematic substance use are disproportionately represented amongst women who sell sex. And whilst some men sell sex, women do so disproportionately. Men are also overwhelmingly, regardless of the sex of the seller, the buyers.”
* Jessica Neuwirth, international human rights lawyer and co-founder of Equality Now and Donor Direct Action – “Amnesty is urging its membership to legalize the industry, making no distinction between the women being prostituted and those who pay for and profit from their exploitation. Sweden has made a legal distinction between those driven into the sex industry by poverty and discrimination and those who buy sex as an exercise of power and privilege. Its model law criminalizes only the buying of sex and offers support services to those who are bought. This progressive feminist method aims to decriminalize prostituted women without legitimizing the men who buy them.”
* Catriona Grant, social worker in the voluntary sector, writing in a personal capacity– “The policy makes the pimps and punters who buy sex invisible, creating invisible men (and whilst they are not exclusively men, they are the massive majority). It lets those that cause the demand for sexual services off the hook, it offers them legitimacy.”
* Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current and journalist – “How can a policy on prostitution mention “gender equality” but fail to mention the entire foundation for a sex industry: gender inequality?
* Elizabeth Pickett, Women’s rights activist – “Forget about feminist analysis just for a moment and look at how contract law — accepted in most of the Western world, in this case the United States of America — looks at the issue of consent to a transaction. Chunlin Leonhard explains:
“The volition requirement of consent ‘requires conditions free of coercion and undue influence.’ Coercion occurs when one person threatens to harm the other person in order to obtain consent. ‘Undue influence, by contrast, occurs through an offer of an excessive, unwarranted, inappropriate or improper reward or other overture in order to obtain compliance.’ Additionally, ‘inducements that would ordinarily be acceptable may become undue influences if the subject is especially vulnerable.’”
* The Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization (AF3IRM) – is “outraged that Amnesty International, which was founded to strengthen human rights, now seeks to enshrine the business of prostitution as a “right” – ignoring the human damage that the privilege of sexual access for the dominant, the powerful and the wealthy over the bodies of the oppressed, the vulnerable and the poor, has done to generations upon generations of women, children and marginalized genders.”
* Raquel Rosario Sanchez, an activist and advocate from the Dominican Republic – “If you look beyond the façade of human rights for “sex workers,” what is revealed is a perfect example of an organization choosing ideology and profit over the well-being and human rights of women and girls.”
* Anna Djinn, Women’s rights advocate – “Amnesty presented the arguments in such a way that unless you were already well informed, you would get the impression that many people are calling for those involved in prostitution to be criminalised. However, in fact not a single feminist or human rights group or organisation working in the field is calling for this. This way of arguing is sometimes called a straw man argument and is often the sign of a poor argument or an ulterior motive. It is not the behaviour we would expect from an international human rights organisation. Similarly Amnesty disguised the fact that they were calling for the full decriminalisation of the entire sex industry, including pimps, punters and brothel owners, behind phrases like “the operational aspects” of the industry and by lumping sex buyers and sellers together.This means that Amnesty members and supporters were asked to make a decision on the basis of incomplete information presented in a dishonest and biased way.”
* Denise Marshall, former CEO and Ambassador of EAVES, best known for its work supporting trafficked and prostituted women – “Eaves is dismayed by Amnesty’s misguided decision to legitimise and normalise the pimps, buyers, managers, exploiters and facilitators of prostitution today… It is a betrayal of women’s rights, an entirely defeatist position and a huge poverty of aspiration.”
* Feminism in London – “In response to Amnesty International’s decision to legitimise the profiteering from the sale of women in the sex industry, we refer back to our position statement; Amnesty’s sex industry stance fails women and girls.”
* Esohe Aghatise anti-trafficking manager at Equality Now – “The supposed logic is that gender equality exists to the extent that prostitution is a consensual act, but also that buying sex from women in prostitution is an important human right for some men to improve “their life enjoyment and dignity”. As somebody who has worked for several decades with prostitutes, I know exactly what “consent” means in the context of the sex trade. The vast majority of women enter it in the absence of real choices. Many are children – or were children when they first supposedly consented to it.”
* Meagan Tyler, member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA) and Research Fellow at RMIT University – “The schism on this issue between organisations that focus on human rights and organisations that focus specifically on women’s rights is telling. It has again raised prominent law professor Catharine MacKinnon’s incisive question: “Are women human?” Originally posed in a piece reflecting on 50 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, MacKinnon points out that men and men’s experiences are embedded in the document. This starts with Article 1, which calls on us to “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”… We may have “women’s rights” but these do not always fit well into an existing framework of “human rights” that assumes a white, European man as its centre…”
* Laura McNally, psychologist, researcher, author and PhD candidate – “Amnesty and their supporters in the Australian feminist media argue that there are sufficient laws to deal with sexual exploitation and trafficking, including child sex abuse. They argue that not all prostitution involves sex trafficking.
“On the contrary, all sex trafficking results in prostitution and any increase in the industry influences rates of trafficking. Research out of various European states, including the London School of Economics, has shown that any legalization of the sex trade significantly increases the flows of sex trafficking. An international study of male sex-buyers found that fully one quarter preferred women under the age of 18,with a universal preference for young women. This is reflected in Thai estimates that the sex industry involves around 40% children. Research shows over half of the women in Sydney’s sex trade are from overseas and many lack English comprehension.”
* Resistenza Femminista – “Your philosophy of harm reduction is another offence to us all! The abolition of prostitution is what we want and you need to listen to us! You tell yourselves that you want to improve the conditions of those who are in prostitution. You do not understand that those women who stand on the street to sell themselves short do not expect that you give them a coat when winter comes, but they expect you to bring them to a safe place, give them clothes and give them the security that that will no longer be their life… they wait, and have waited only that ‘someone might save me’. But still you dare to hide yourselves behind the rumour that they are prostitutes that CHOSE it!”
* Carolyn Leckie, Women for Independence(WFI) board member and National journalist – “Had the charity confined itself to campaigning for the release of all prostituted people from jails, and the decriminalisation of them, I would have warmly applauded. It is an abomination that tens of thousands of women whose only crime is having been driven into selling their bodies to feed their children are incarcerated in prisons across the world. Instead, along with many other women, including a large number of Amnesty’s own membership, I am left dismayed. Why? Because the charity is also calling for the decriminalisation of pimps, brothel keepers and the vast global industry whose profits are built from the exploitation of girls, women and young men mainly drawn from the depths of the extreme poor.”
* Antipornfeminists – “Amnesty’s decision isn’t actually much of a surprise, individuals at the top of Amnesty UK have been determined to push this through for a long time. How much of Amnesty’s resources will now be spent on lobbying on behalf of pimps, rather than advocating on behalf of the victims of torture and unfair detention?”
* Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now – ““As a partner human rights organization created specifically to fill a need that Amnesty was not addressing — namely a focus on women’s rights — Equality Now is very disappointed and deeply concerned by Amnesty’s decision today (11 August 2015).”
* Michelle Kelly, bestselling crime and mystery author – “Packaging myself as an escort and charging a thousand pounds a night may have earned me more money and offered nicer places in which to ‘work’, but it didn’t protect me. It didn’t change the fact that I was desperate for the money, that I had been sexually abused, that I was originally coerced into the adult filming industry by an horrifically violent and abusive ex, or that I was primarily selling sex to fund a life-threatening drug addiction. It didn’t prevent my being attacked by punters. It didn’t stop me being secretly desperate to get out, until I became suicidal and too traumatized to get a full night’s sleep without waking up screaming. I didn’t tell my clients this of course, instead I defended my right to ‘work’ and painted myself as an empowered woman to my concerned friends.
Not that the majority of clients particularly care. An Eaves study in 2009 in London showed that the majority of punters were well aware of the likelihood that the prostitute was trafficked, addicted, traumatized or otherwise vulnerable. It didn’t stop them.”
* Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) Statement on Amnesty International’s Resolution to Decriminalize Pimps, Brothel Owners and Buyers of Sex – “Amnesty’s Press Release announcing their vote seems innocuous to the naked eye with language about gender equality, women’s rights, human rights standards and child sexual exploitation. Don’t be fooled. Amnesty’s call on governments to decriminalize the sex industry underlines a willful and callous rejection of women’s rights and equality. The human rights organization opted to side with the multi-billion dollar international sex trade and to exclude prostituted individuals – who are overwhelmingly women and girls from disenfranchised racial, ethnic and economic groups – from the rights granted to all people in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… Amnesty has maintained its resolve to widen the door for human rights abuses against prostituted individuals on a global scale.”
* Isla MacGregor, Australian feminist, environmental activist and whistleblower at the Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom (WILPF) forum in Hobart, Tasmania, 2015 – “How could Amnesty International develop a policy that is incompatible with the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, the 1949 United Nations Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and on the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, and the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)? …considered by many in the human rights movement globally as one of the most retrograde steps any human rights organisation has taken on the issue of women’s rights – Amnesty International’s new policy on what they controversially refer to as ‘sex work’…
“…there was no reference to research critical of decriminalisation/legalisation outcomes in Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Neither was there any mention of positive outcomes for the Nordic Model in Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The latter three countries are in the top five nations on the Global Gender Equity Index…
“…Women have the unequivocal right to make decisions about their health, body, sexuality and reproductive life. Men, on the other hand, do not have the fundamental right to gain access to that body in the sex trade or in any other sphere, despite Amnesty’s premise to the contrary. Amnesty is refusing to admit that the prostituted suffer at the hands of buyers regardless of the legal environment, wilfully ignoring johns‘ own accounts of their predilection for dehumanization, and research showing their propensity for sexual violence.”
* Open Letter by Seven Icelandic women’s organizations including; Femínistafélag Íslands – the Feminist Association of Iceland, Kvenfélagasamband Íslands – the Federation of Icelandic Women‘s Societies, Kvennaathvarfið – the Women‘s Shelter, Kvennaráðgjöfin – the Women‘s Counseling, Kvenréttindafélag Íslands – the Icelandic Women‘s Rights Association, Stígamót – Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence, and W.O.M.E.N. in Iceland – Women Of Multicultural Ethnicity Network in Iceland urging the “Icelandic chapter of Amnesty International to actively promote the Nordic Model of criminalizing the purchase of prostitution during the upcoming International Council Meeting of Amnesty International in Dublin, and to actively work to defeat the proposed “Draft Policy on Sex Work”.
“If Amnesty International recommends the decriminalization of prostitution, the organization will be promoting amnesty for pimps and johns, while simultaneously trampling on women’s human rights. Such a radical change in policy will harm the credibility of Amnesty International and violate the trust we have placed in this organization for decades.”
* Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) – “criticised a recent Amnesty International vote in favour of adopting a policy that supports decriminalisation of the sex trade, including prostitution. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the NCW described the vote as contradictory to “public morality and human dignity”. The vote violates women rights and turns women into a sex commodity,” the head of NCW, Mervat El-Tallawi, was quoted as saying in the statement.”
* Ressources Prostitution, an international group of feminist speakers in the case of prostitution, in French & English – “After months and months of calling you, begging you to listen to prostitution survivors, front line NGOs, scholars & researchers, abolitionists organizations; on August 11th, 2015, you decided to ignore decades of research and evidence exposing the harm of prostitution and the $ex industry by supporting and promoting the decriminalization of all aspects of prostitution. As it has been demonstrated over and over, the decriminalization of prostitution literally KILLS women.”
* Penny white, master’s psychology with emphasis on childhood sexual trauma, worked for over 10 years as a case manager/peer counselor for mentally ill people living in poverty. Current volunteer at The Gubbio Project, San Francisco. – Remembering the murdered women erased by the pro-sex work agenda “Since the Nordic Model was adopted in Sweden 16 years ago, not a single prostituted woman has been murdered by a john. Not one. New Zealand, with only half the population of Sweden, has lost several prostituted women to gruesome murders committed by johns since full decriminalization was implemented in 2002 (13 years).
“But let’s not just pick on New Zealand. In Germany, 55 prostitutes have been murdered since 2002 when prostitution was legalized. There have also been 29 attempted murders.
“The Netherlands has almost the exact same overall murder rate as Sweden. But 28 prostituted women have been murdered in the Netherlands since the year 2000, when prostitution was legalized.”
* Project Respect Australian Support service for women in the sex industry – Reaching out to sex workers (video and transcript): Interview with survivor of prostitution, now support worker for Project Respect, Cate Connett. Lateline ABC, interview by Emma Alberici, 13/3/2015
* Survivors say the Nordic model of prostitution is their only hope: “Panel, addressing the impacts of various prostitution legislation around the world, March 15, 2016. Organized by SPACE International, the parallel event, which took place in New York City in connection with the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, featured the voices of survivors-turned-front-line-workers from around the world — women we rarely hear from in the so-called “sex-work” debate, despite their expansive experience in various aspects of the sex trade.”
* Open letter to party leaders in the Canadian government, 2014: “We—the undersigned (over 800 signatories)—are women who work in different capacities to end violence against women and to protect and advance women’s rights to equality. Prostitution is a practice in which women’s subordination to men is inherent and lived out repeatedly. Consequently, we are writing to you today to urge you to support the “Nordic approach” to legislation on prostitution for Canada, because it includes legislation, intensive social supports, and public education strategies, all designed to reduce and eliminate prostitution…
“We do not accept prostitution as a solution to women’s poverty; we want something much better for Canada’s poor and racialized women and girls. We believe you do too, and we urge you to act on your commitments to women and to an egalitarian Canada.”
* Kathleen Barry, Professor Emerita is the author of Female Sexual Slavery and The Prostitution of Sexuality: the Global Exploitation of Women, cofounder of CATW, and originator of the Convention Against Sexual Exploitation – Now this is our time to SEIZE THE MOMENT, “We must extend the Nordic model to every part of the globe. Every moment we engage developing countries in changing their laws to protect women not buyers, every time we gain support for women in poverty where misogyny drives masses of desperate women into the sex industries, every time a buyer of women’s bodies for sexual use and abuse is held to account we will have won against Amnesty, but more importantly, women’s rights to human dignity and peace will expand exponentially.
“But even winning the Nordic model in state after state is not enough. Amnesty International and the sex industries have severely eroded universal human rights in their promotion of prostitution. Feminists, by contrast, are working to expand human rights for women. The Convention Against Sexual Exploitation is a draft United Nations treaty which would make all forms of sexual exploitation — including prostitution and pornography — a violation of human rights, would contest the power men exert through their sexual control and domination of women, would require protection for women in the migrating process, and calls for state funding for support programs for survivors.
“In addition, Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson have formulated a human rights model for non-state torture. Instead of confining guarantees of human rights protections only to victims of state torture, in their approach to United Nations human rights law, prostitution and all forms of violence against women would be considered “non-state torture.”
“Mounting a global campaign to make sexual exploitation a violation of human rights would give strength and support to state campaigns to bring down the heinous legalization of prostitution which India and other less developed countries are considering. Former President Jimmy Carter also speaks to the need for this Convention and calls upon the United Nations to adopt it. Under the direction and with the human rights commitment of the Carter Center’s Karin Ryan, a meeting of activists adopted these recommendations at a May 2015 World Summit: Ending Sexual Exploitation 2025 which supports the Convention Against Sexual Exploitation.” More here.
These women’s organisations worldwide garnered support along the way from several chapters of Amnesty International:
* Sweden – “Top Amnesty officials are being invited to Sweden to study its law which bans people from buying sex, after the human rights group voted to back the decriminalization of the sex trade. See also – Sweden takes on Amnesty International in debate over legalizing prostitution.
* Luxenburg – “Luxembourg’s chapter of human rights group Amnesty International voted against a resolution to decriminalise prostitution, calling for further research, it has emerged… “Amnesty International Luxembourg wanted to have more time to study the latest research prior to the adoption of this resolution, in particular studies concerning the ‘Nordic model’.”
* AI France – removed itself from consultation because they Do Not support this AI policy of full decriminalisation, they too support the Nordic model.
Note: Only 40% of Amnesty’s country sections participated in the consultation process for the decriminalized prostitution proposal.
And support from male human rights advocates:
* Chris Hedges: receiver of the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002 – “We live in a global culture where the wretched of the earth are chattel and where sexual slavery—which is what most prostituted women and girls around the globe endure—is sanctified by market forces. These women and girls are among our most vulnerable. After being crushed by poverty, racism and sexism, they are unable to find other ways to make a sustainable income. They are treated little better than livestock transported to markets for consumption. That a so-called human rights organization (Amnesty International) parrots vile justifications is emblematic of the depth of our moral degeneration and the triumph of misogyny.”
* Simon Hedlin, former political adviser for gender equality and human rights at the Prime Minister’s Office in Sweden – “decriminalizing buying sex seems to be at odds with Amnesty’s core objectives. One of the reasons that there are so many of us who have strongly supported Amnesty for years is the organization’s steadfast commitment to the fundamental rights of individuals, whether they are refugees, prisoners of conscience, or victims of torture. But buying sex is not a human right. Instead of adopting a harmful proposal, Amnesty should have learned from Sweden’s prostitution policies. In 1999, Sweden made it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them – an approach that is now often called “the Swedish model.” The ingenuity of the Swedish model is that it protects those who are most vulnerable from being arrested and prosecuted. Nobody is forced to buy sex. But many individuals are coerced, deceived or threatened into selling sex.”
* Nicholas Kristof, American journalist, author, op-ed columnist: human rights, women’s rights, health, global affairs, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes – “Amnesty International will consider a proposal in the coming days that would call for full decriminalization of the sex trade, including for johns, on the theory that this would benefit sex workers. Nice theory, but a failed one. It has been tried repeatedly and it invariably benefited johns while exacerbating abuse of women and girls: A parallel underground market emerges for underage girls.
“Let’s hope Amnesty comes to its senses and, as Swanee Hunt of Harvard put it, avoids “endorsing one of the most exploitative human rights abuses of our time”.”
* Kevin M. Ryan President and CEO, Covenant House: opening doors for homeless youth – “Each year at our homeless shelters in 27 cities in six countries and our new safe house in the New York area, Covenant House sees devastated prostituted people, mostly young women, who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of being raped repeatedly in the sex trade, most often for someone else’s profit. Recent studies at our New York and New Orleans shelters have shown that almost a quarter of surveyed homeless young people have either been trafficked for sex or felt compelled to trade their bodies for food or a place to sleep.”
* Julian Burnside – @JulianBurnside #qanda 2014, AO QC an Australian barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and author – “Prostitution affects all women because it affects the way men regard women.”
- Jason Unruhe – Amnesty international’s pro-paid rape support (video above). August 13, 2015 –”It’s not first world women that are being trafficked to the third world to serve as prostitutes… it’s kind of the other way around. It’s the third world women who are the victims, but then again the third world women who are victims are generally [victims] for the benefit of first world men… When we see prostitution in the first world we see, in the media, images of the bunny ranch, this glorified image, these ten thousand dollar a night “hookers”, “escorts”, that make thousands of dollars in one night. Of course this is not the reality of prostitution in the first world, but that is what we’re fed. And you bet, sure as hell, this is not the reality of prostitution in the third world, where it exits in conditions that are entirely inhuman.”
Countries that have adopted the Nordic Model of Prostitution
*France has adopted the Nordic Model because the Nordic Model works, April 6th 2016:
“After years of citizenship initiatives and civil actions, French law makers took a critical step to establish gender equality in France by adopting The Nordic Model. On April 6th 2016, the French National Assembly recognized prostitution as one of the worst forms of violence against women and voted the criminalization of the purchase of sex… reinforcing the country will to fight sexual exploitation of women in prostitution. Under this law, prostituted women, children and men will not be criminalized. They will receive social support and benefits to exit prostitution while men buying sex will be fined and liable to prosecution……when it comes to sexual violence against women, the French National Assembly recognized the tremendous level of violence in prostitution, including assault, rape, physical and psychological torture. The French National Assembly also recognized that the existence of prostitution encourages the transnational trafficking of women and children. This has been demonstrated in countries such as Germany, Spain and New Zealand which tried full regularization of prostitution and yet witnessed sex trafficking surge, with underage and disenfranchised women imported by the thousands to meet the ever increasing demand of sex buyers.”Indeed, while admitting the failure of regularization at an international scale, the Assembly recognized the need to urgently address the demand-side in prostitution. It has been established that sex buyers are responsible for the ever-increasing number of women and children brought into prostitution, as well as the worst form of violence perpetrated against them. Their forums, where they evaluate their preys as goods, details explicitly the hatred, domination and violence they impose on women.”By this historical decision, French law makers confirmed that they heard the voices of hundreds of survivors, as well as women still trapped in the sex industry. They acknowledged that most women in prostitution were groomed while still underage, and that all attempts of legalization led to even more exploitation while failing to offer them any form of safety. Indeed, it is impossible, let alone human, to regularize and streamline pedocriminality, slavery, torture and murder. All countries must take all the steps in their power in order to fight such human rights abuses…” Full press release by Ressources Prostitution, April 6, 2016, here
* Review into prostitution must benefit women not business, ACT Australia 2011 – “While the sex industry pursues its business aims under the rhetorical guise of ‘safety for sex workers’, its profits are derived from the sexual degradation and exploitation of society’s most vulnerable people.
“Research shows overwhelmingly that people in prostitution suffer rates of post-traumatic stress disorder equal to that of war veterans (see Melissa Farley, 2004). So, it’s unlikely the industry gives a damn about the personal security, integrity and individual growth of the women it sells as live sex dolls.
“Notably, the industry is not lobbying the ACT government to set up ‘exit’ programs to assist women to leave prostitution if they wish. The industry’s real agenda is obscured by its ‘safety for sex workers’ rhetoric, but understanding this agenda is important if any changes are going to be considered for the ACT’s Prostitution Act.” Dr Caroline Norma, lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia
* Men who buy sex: in their own words: “Men who buy women and children for sex often regard them as less than human. We know this because the men themselves openly say so both in research and on customer review websites where men detail and rank the ‘services’ of the women they buy. These websites showcase the contempt these men have for the women they exploit.
We’ve collected a small sample of quotes from men who buy women. Several main themes emerge.” Collective Shout, grassroots advocates for women’s rights
* Men who buy sex have much in common with sexually coercive men. Findings support decades of research by UCLA professor who co-authored study.* Covenant House: opening doors for homeless youth in 6 countries – “We urge Amnesty International to take into account how dangerous life is for a prostituted person: a 2004 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the homicide rate for prostituted women was almost 13 times higher than the rate for the general population.”
* 2015 – short video “documents 152 cases of deadly violence against women and transwomen in prostitution all around the world, that were committed in 2015. This list results on what we found in online newspaper articles and contributions by people via Facebook/Mail/Twitter. Meaning: This list is far (!) from being complete.” Full documentation here
- Please support groups that provide for and advocate for what women in prostitution tell us they want: EXIT SERVICES and ABOLITIONIST POLICY. Here are just a few of many groups who need your support; by Prostitution Research and Education
- Please support Project Respect Australia: Project Respect doors closing unless something miraculous happens (< < go-fund-me link at bottom of post < <)
If you are a woman inside the prostitution/sex industry in Australia and:
– you need help and support contact: Project Respect
– you want to leave prostitution contact: Project Respect
– you want to talk to a counselor and/or gain access to connecting services including police to report rape, assault, coercion, grooming, contact:
- Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120, 7:30am to midnight daily, or
- 1800 Respect 1800 737 732, 24 hour sexual assault and domestic violence support
If you are a woman who has exited prostitution and:
– you need support contact: Project Respect
– you need to talk to a counselor with access to connecting services, call 1800 737 732, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are feeling unsafe right now, call 000
To report human trafficking – contact the Australian Federal Police on 131 AFP (131 237)