For the majority of people, the controversy surrounding Amnesty International and its proposed prostitution policy is a non-story. This is for the simple reason that most will assume that decriminalisation means not arresting the women. When Amnesty promotes the notion that the decriminalisation of sex workers will protect their human rights, they fail to explain that this would apply to all those whose business is associated with the sex trade: pimps, brothel-owners, pornographers, and others who profit from the sale of women.
A number of survivors who have left the sex trade have spoken about how they survived while still involved, which includes insisting to themselves and to others that they were making a free and happy choice to sell sex.
When I exposed Amnesty’s plan to campaign on decriminalising the entire sex trade in a national newspaper, I did so in the knowledge that feminists had been fighting this battle with senior policymakers for some years. Amnesty had been experiencing pressure both inside and outside of the organisation to put the human rights of women on the Amnesty agenda. This was partially achieved when it launched its violence against women strategy, but prostitution was never a part of it. So long as Amnesty was condemning child sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women from across borders within the sex industry, they seemed fine to ignore the rest of the grotesque, state-sanctioned abuse of adult women.