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.
Amnesty International’s International Council has been invited to adopt a policy on “sex work” which would urge States to repeal criminalisation of pimps, procurers and sex buyers. While we support the decriminalisation of prostituted persons, we reject any movement to legitimize exploitation.
We, as survivors of prostitution, global and domestic women’s rights movements, collectives of survivors of prostitution and sexual abuse, feminist organisations, frontline and faith-based NGOs providing assistance to prostituted persons, women migrant groups and indigenous networks, urge Amnesty delegates to reject this ideological position that would:
- Promote impunity for those who financially and sexually exploit women — pimps and johns.
- Lead to an increase in trafficking of human beings, which has already happened in states that decriminalised procuring of prostitution (Germany and Netherlands).
- Legitimise a sexist, classist, and racist tradition of making women’s bodies available for men’s sexual use.
- Severely hurt our efforts to fight against all forms of sexual violence, including rape, trafficking, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
- Isolate Amnesty International from all other NGOs fighting against sexual and sexist violence at the international and local levels.
In the past weeks, letters and petitions expressing deep concern about Amnesty’s proposal to decriminalize the sex trade have collectively attracted over 10,000 signatures from international organizations, former heads of state, international human rights activists and concerned individuals (SEE BELOW). The organizations below are specifically signing on to this letter urging Amnesty to reject this proposed position.
Survivors of prostitution abuse
Cherrie Jimenez, SPACE international, USA – Rachel Moran, SPACE international, Ireland – Vednita Carter, SPACE international, USA – Bridget Perrier, SPACE international, Canada – Fiona Broadfoot, SPACE international, UK – Tanja Rahm, SPACE international, Denmark – Rosen Hicher, SPACE international, France – Autumn Burris, SPACE international, USA – Jeannette Westbrook, SPACE international, USA – Laurence Noëlle, SPACE international, France – Marie Merklinger, SPACE international, Germany – Marian Hatcher, SPACE international, USA
Women’s rights and gender equality movements
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) – Equality Now – European Women’s Lobby (2000 NGO members in Europe) – Osez le Féminisme! – UK Feminista – FEMEN – Resistenza Femminista, Italy – Conseil national des Droits des Femmes (France)
Migrant women and indigenous groups
Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) – Indigenous Women Against Sex Industry – Association des Femmes Autochtones du Canada – Groupe pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles, des Mariages Forcés et autres pratiques traditionnelles néfastes à la santé des femmes et des enfants (GAMS)
Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP international) – Demand Abolition (USA) – Abolition 2012 (60 NGOs in France), Apne Aap (India), KAFA (Lebanon), Prostitution Research & Education (USA), Embrace Dignity (South Africa), Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (USA), Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (USA), Eaves (UK), Women’s Support Project (UK), Mouvement du Nid (France), Amicale du Nid (France), Solwodi (Germany), Fondation Scelles (France), Sexual Violence Centre Cork (Ireland)
Human rights and social justice groups
Martin Luther King Jr. Center, The Carter Center, Covenant House
10 000 people and world leaders like President Jimmy Carter, Swedish MFA Margot Wallstrom, The Martin Luther King Jr Center have also called on Amnesty to reject this policy.
Women’s rights movements and anti-trafficking NGOs – 6000 signatures:
Vote NO to Decriminalizing Pimps, Brothel Owners, and Buyers of Sex.
Petition by Survivors of prostitution – 4000 signatures:
Listen to Survivors: Reject the Proposal to Decriminalize All Aspects of Prostitution
Petition by 201 scholars and researchers from 19 countries
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center – The King Center and The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Stand Against the Decriminalization of Prostitution
Call by Nobel Peace Prize and former President of the USA: Jimmy Carter
President Carter speaks out on commercial sexual exploitation
Libération – FEMEN, Taslima Nasreen, Lidia Falcon, Gérard Biard (Charlie Hebdo): Contre le choix pro-prostitution d’Amnesty International
The Guardian – Jessica Neuwirth, founder of Equality Now: Amnesty International says prostitution is a human right – but it’s wrong
Twitter – Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden: Can’t believe Amnesty will endorse legalising commercial sexual exploitation?
The New York Times: Amnesty International Considers Pushing for Decriminalization of Prostitution
The Guardian – CATW, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Lena Dunham: Actors call on Amnesty to reject plans backing decriminalisation of sex trade
International Business Time – Inna Shevchenko, leader of FEMEN: Legalising the sex trade will only make pimps and criminals richer
Huffington Post – Kevin M Ryan, President and CEO, Covenant House: Amnesty International: Please Protect the Most Vulnerable in Your Trafficking Debate