Amnesty International recently adopted a proposal that recommends decriminalizing the sex trade, a move that it says is for the human rights and equal protections of sex workers. This proposal instead gives amnesty to pimps, brothel owners and sex buyers by recognizing everyone in sex work as “consenting adults.” Men and women in the vulnerable position of selling their bodies for sex should be offered services and solutions to provide them with safe alternatives.
The proposal instead legalizes their exploitation. Amnesty International says that people who engage in sex work often do so because they have been marginalized and have limited choices. The decision to sell one’s body for sex made in the absence of better circumstances is not a human right. A buyer or trafficker who takes advantage of someone’s lack of choice for their own financial or sexual gain is an exploiter of human rights and should be criminalized.
Sex work and sex trafficking cannot reasonably be separated. Sex work fuels the demand for commercial sex, which is the indisputable driving force behind the sex-trafficking industry. Supply will always meet demand, and in this equation, supply is too often vulnerable men and women, and, at its very worst, children. Under the group’s proposal, sex traffickers and brothel owners could operate with immunity for facilitating what they say is consensual sex work. Protections should not be afforded to those who prey on a person’s vulnerability or lack of basic needs. Decriminalizing sex work would put those in the sex industry, and vulnerable populations around the world, in greater danger by giving no authority to go after those who exploit others for personal profit, all under the guise of protecting those in harm’s way.