Yesterday, Al Jazeera’s online TV show, The Stream, featured a segment about Amnesty International’s decision to adopt a policy that supports the full decriminalization and/or legalization of prostitution.
The show featured Catherine Murphy, Policy Advisor at Amnesty International, Maxine Doogan, President of the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational, and Research Project, and Simone Watson, Director of the Nordic Model in Australia Coalition and an exited prostitute.
The host, Femi Oke, began by asking Doogan how decriminalization would have made her life or the life of her “colleagues” better. As we’ve come to expect from media (and thanks to the manipulative advocacy of sex work advocates), the host failed to make clear that, in fact, what we are talking about cannot be simply presented as “decriminalization vs. criminalization.” The conversation and the feminist critique of Amnesty’s decision is not about whether or not to decriminalize prostituted people, but whether or not to decriminalize pimps and johns, which effectively made all of Doogan’s responses irrelevant, in terms of this debate.
Nonetheless, Doogan was allowed to go on about how criminalization of “sex workers” is bad thing.
She discussed the difficulties of approaching the police when in need of assistance under a criminalized regime, which is something advocates of legalization often reference while failing to acknowledge that the Nordic model addresses just that. But when your argument hinges on this convenient angle, it’s hard to avoid. As such, Doogan argued that women in the industry are treated badly by the police when they are criminalized… which is true! But it is also true that the Nordic model is the only model that makes reeducating the police so that they treat prostituted women with respect and kindness a priority. ….