nia: delivering cutting edge services to end violence against women and girls

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nia, a London based charity supporting women, girls and children who have suffered sexual and domestic violence, expresses disappointment at Amnesty International vote 

Chief Executive, Karen Ingala Smith said

“We are disappointed to hear that Amnesty, an organisation that is supposed to protect human rights, has voted in favour of facilitating trade in women.

Women who sell sex face daily abuse, rape, and physical violence, along with humiliation, social isolation and stereotyping. The majority of assaults are committed men who buy sex. Approximately half of women in prostitution in the UK started being paid for sex when they were under 18, that is while they were legally children. Every day through our work supporting survivor-victims of domestic and sexual violence, we hear the realities of women and girls who have been commercially exploited.

At nia we believe that the best outcomes for women, girls and children would be to end demand, to end men’s belief that women are a commodity and to end the poverty and inequality that push women in to prostitution. When asked, 9 out of 10 women who sell sex report wanting to exit, but they face barriers to doing so. We agree that women who sell sex should have full legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and men’s violence. They should be supported and not face criminal sanctions.

We agree with Amnesty that women who sell sex “are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse.” Marginalised women, women in poverty, black and minority ethnic women are hugely over-represented in women who sell sex. So-called ‘choices’ that result from economic necessity do not represent consent, but coercion.

Men’s sense of entitlement to women’s and children’s bodies and sexuality is endorsed when their demand for purchasing sex is legally protected. We believe that this approach will lead to an increase, not decrease, in men’s violence against women and children. Men’s violence against women and girls is a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men. The majority of those who sell sex are women, the majority of those who buy and profit from women who sell sex are men. Women and men will never be equal of one sex is a commodity and the other is the seller and purchaser.

nia will continue to ensure that all our services are accessible to women who sell sex. And we will continue to campaign to end men’s violence against women, girls and children. With regards to the selling and buying of sex, we will continue to campaign and support campaigns that end demand and support women.”

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