Amnesty International’s recently released Draft Policy on Sex Work, to be considered at the organisation’s 32nd International Council Meeting (ICM) in Dublin on 7-11 August this year, is a human rights travesty.
Far from offering a well-researched, broadly based policy document, Amnesty has put forward a colourless effort, drafted no doubt by a lackey with unquestioning devotion to political correctness and a talent for repetitive verbal puffery.
The language of the draft document is all style and no substance.
The policy document acknowledges that ‘systemic factors and personal circumstances related to poverty, discrimination and gender inequality can have a bearing on some individuals’ decisions to do sex work’, but insists that sex workers have ‘agency’ and ‘choice’ when entering sex work.
Apart from the fact that most, not ‘some’ people (mostly women) enter prostitution because they have no other option, Amnesty’s glib recognition of their ‘agency’ is patronising in the extreme. They’re saying to the thousands of women forced into prostitution by these circumstances that even though they are poor, and suffering discrimination, at least they have agency.
Shouldn’t Amnesty be focusing more on ensuring women have a real choice – that they have real agency – by addressing the underlying poverty, discrimination and lack of education that lead women into prostitution?
The draft policy also fails to canvass alternative legislative options for sex work, particularly the Nordic Model – a model that decriminalises sex workers but criminalises those that purchase, or procure the purchase of sexual services – the johns, pimps and brothel owners.