Amnesty International … the sex trade’s new best friend by Simone Watson

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.

Read more at the Tasmanian Times

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The Pro-Pimp Dogma of the ‘Feminist Left’: A Case Study in Hypocrisy by Laura McNally

“Love how you treat them like slaves too bro love your work” pipes up one young Australian dad on Facebook. He is messaging Tim “Sharky” Ward, a notorious Australian pimp who lives in Pattaya, Thailand.

Pattaya’s lucrative sex trade boomed off the back of the United States Army who frequented the town for a bit of “rest and relaxation.” The trade continues to this day, bolstered by favourable economic policy and cohorts of sex tourists.

Pattaya’s demand for young women is particularly well served by the continued exclusion of minority and ethnic groups in the region.

Sharky, Pattaya’s resident pimp, boasts several hundred thousand online fans that flock to view his explicit images of young women. He also shares stories of how he demands respect and uses violence if “girls” don’t pay up – for instance, he put one woman in a “sleeper hold” in order to snatch her money. Sharky’s fans applaud.

We might expect pimps like Sharky to be embraced by the deadbeats of the world. Surprisingly though, Sharky may find his greatest promoters are actually those who consider themselves progressives. From within their stronghold of so-called feminist and left-leaning supporters, they are calling for pimps like Sharky to be recognized as legitimate managers and professionals.

Such is the case in a new policy adopted by one of the world’s most renowned progressive organisations, Amnesty International.

Read more at ABC

Amnesty International: Please Protect the Most Vulnerable in Your Trafficking Debate by Kevin P Ryan

Should prostitution be decriminalized? Few questions attract such heated debate, and few are as likely to divide people and organizations that believe they are championing the best interests of vulnerable people. In the next few days our colleague in human rights work, Amnesty International, will be tackling this question at its International Council Meeting in Ireland. We who work with sex trafficking victims urge the delegates to vote no. To do otherwise would let pimps and johns off the hook for acts of violence and exploitation.

Studies have shown that in countries that legalize prostitution, human trafficking is more common and actually increases. We cannot bear to see any additional suffering caused by modern sex slavery.

We recognize that there are people who participate in sex work of their own free will, for their own profit (often out of desperation to meet basic needs when there are few other options). We agree that they must be kept safe from disease and violence, and must be allowed to protect themselves from exploitation, including from law enforcement. These are the folks Amnesty International’s proposed decriminalization policy aims to protect, but they are very different from those we see at our doors.

Each year at our homeless shelters in 27 cities in six countries and our new safe housein the New York area, Covenant House sees devastated prostituted people, mostly young women, who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of being raped repeatedly in the sex trade, most often for someone else’s profit. Recent studies at our New York and New Orleans shelters have shown that almost a quarter of surveyed homeless young people have either been trafficked for sex or felt compelled to trade their bodies for food or a place to sleep.

We know pimps and traffickers target homeless young people, believing that no adult is looking out for that runaway at the bus station, and that a young person who has recently aged out of foster care may have nowhere safe to stay and scant opportunities for supporting him or herself. We see people with few resources and weak support systems, like Muriel, from our book Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, whose pimp kept her working with a combination of cocaine and the date rape drug, a chemical concoction that kept her in a cruel, artificial state of high libido and high energy.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

Men who buy sex have much in common with sexually coercive men by Stuart Wolpert

Originally published August 31, 2015 at UCLA Newsroom

“It’s like she’s not really there.”
– Study participant who bought sex

Men who buy sex have less empathy for women in prostitution than men who don’t buy sex, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. The research, co-authored by UCLA professor Neil Malamuth, also found that men who buy sex are more likely to report having committed rape and other aggressive sexual acts.

The study of 101 men in the Boston area who buy sex and 101 men who do not indicates that sex buyers’ perspectives are similar to those of sexually coercive men.

“Our findings indicate that men who buy sex share certain key characteristics with men who are at risk for committing sexual aggression,” said Malamuth, a professor of communications studies and psychology. “Both groups tend to have a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification. Those who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit by Lily Munroe

Human rights group Amnesty International’s (AI) 2015 policy on ‘sex work’ advocates for pimps and johns rights to buy and sell women for ‘sex’ by calling on countries to decriminalise all aspects of the sex industry.

This is as opposed to the Nordic model of prostitution, which implements the full decriminalisation of prostituted people hand in hand with support services and exit programs, while criminalising the pimps and johns who create the demand for, and profit from, this highly gendered and inherently violent and degrading ‘industry’.

In 2014, an AI draft policy was leaked revealing AI’s future intentions to endorse the full decriminalisation of the sex industry, including the pimps and johns. During a Q & A that followed, the Director of AI UK said, “in an imperfect world many women end up in ‘sex work’ as an economic last resort“. As an economic last resort, there is no choice, choice implies other choices to choose from. As an economic last resort Money Does Not Equal Consent.

The most vulnerable women and girls will be the ones affected by such policies because they are the ones being funneled through the sex industry. Poor women, abused women, addicted women, homeless women, women of colour.

Why is AI endorsing vulnerable women and girls being prostituted as a means of survival, instead of the Nordic approach with support services and exit programs; rehabilitation, mental health services, housing, educational and job training, etc, to give these women real choices and a supportive environment to succeed in?

AI’s 2014 leaked draft policy gives us a bit of an idea, showing a lot of concern for the men who buy prostituted women and girls for ‘sex’ (removed from the 2015 policy):….

Read the full post at REAL for Women

When progressives support pimps by Laura McNally

This article originally appeared on the ABC here

Laura McNally’s blog

“Love how you treat them like slaves too bro love your work” pipes up one young Australian dad on Facebook. He is messaging Tim “Sharky” Ward, a notorious Australian pimp who lives in Pattaya, Thailand.

Pattaya’s lucrative sex trade boomed off the back of the United States Army who frequented the town for a bit of “rest and relaxation.” The trade continues to this day, bolstered by favourable economic policy and cohorts of sex tourists.

Pattaya’s demand for young women is particularly well served by the continued exclusion of minority and ethnic groups in the region.

Sharky, Pattaya’s resident pimp, boasts several hundred thousand online fans that flock to view his explicit images of young women. He also shares stories of how he demands respect and uses violence if “girls” don’t pay up – for instance, he put one woman in a “sleeper hold” in order to snatch her money. Sharky’s fans applaud.

We might expect pimps like Sharky to be embraced by the deadbeats of the world. Surprisingly though, Sharky may find his greatest promoters are actually those who consider themselves progressives. From within their stronghold of so-called feminist and left-leaning supporters, they are calling for pimps like Sharky to be recognized as legitimate managers and professionals.

Such is the case in a new policy adopted by one of the world’s most renowned progressive organisations, Amnesty International.

In recent days, the debate has heated up over Amnesty’s call for full decriminalisation of the activities of pimps, sex-buyers and those profiting off exploitation in the sex trade. Australia’s feminist media has been quick to respond with declarations of support for Amnesty and their pimp comrades.

Mamamia was among the first to lay out a business case for why Amnesty’s policy merits support. Destroy the Joint followed suit. Yet both ignored the many organisations whose research and experience stands in opposition to Amnesty’s policy – including the EU Parliament, the European Women’s Lobby and Council of Europe, not to mention hundreds of grassroots organisations that support people within or getting out of the sex trade.

Daily Life published a piece by Eurydice Aroney claiming that Amnesty’s opponents want to “criminalise sex work.” This charge was echoed by Rebecca Hiscock in The Conversation. Both articles’ claims are demonstrably wrong, given that petitions against Amnesty’s policy clearly state they do not support criminalising anyone who sells sex. Hiscock frames opposition to Amnesty as a kind of over-simplified “tragedy porn” that ignores voices of those involved in sex work and that therefore misses important nuances. On the contrary, a blanket approach to decriminalising all aspects of pimping is a culpably oversimplified response that is neither contextually attuned, nor attentive to the voices of those most exploited by pimps.

Aroney in Daily Life regurgitates invalidated claims about how decriminalising pimping and brothel keeping is necessary for the safety of sex workers, and then pronounces that anyone who doesn’t concur must be too “privileged, wealthy and white” to understand. Although I suspect it is the privileged, wealthy, white pimps like Sharky and his ilk that understand it best.

Unfortunately, Aroney fails to follow her own advice: rather than consult with any grassroots organisations that support marginalised women, she instead quotes one Australian woman as saying: “I have never met a pimp, I’ve never been coerced. If someone tries to tell me what to do, I tell them where to go.”

While it is undoubtedly important that women with free choice in the sex trade are given a platform to speak within the Australian media, Aroney effectively re-enacts the same blinkered and ignorant approach she herself condemns: where are the voices of women with less choice or no choice at all? For example, Esohe Aghatise works with sex trafficked Nigerian women. She points out:

“The vast majority of women enter [the sex industry] in the absence of real choices. Many are children – or were children when they first supposedly consented to it … Legalisation of the sex trade has failed spectacularly where it has been introduced. In Germany and the Netherlands, violence and trafficking have hugely increased. Both countries are now backtracking from previous policies.”

Daily Life has a track record of claiming to be feminist, while wilfully ignoring women with least capacity to speak out for themselves. For example, in a recent piece entitled “Would intervening with adult advertising actually stop sex trafficking?” Clementine Ford examines Backpage.com, an online marketplace that banned online payments for sex due to a large number of girls being sex trafficked on their site. Remarkably, however, Ford manages to sidestep the issue of sex trafficking and who it is that sex trafficking most profoundly affects. Without any consideration for one of the most abused and vulnerable groups of people, Ford instead quotes exclusively from women who say they have freely chosen the sex industry and are worried that the ban on Backpage payments will affect revenue.

The necessity of ongoing revenue is the apparent logic behind promoting the sex trade. Yet this logic is not applied to any other industry on earth. There are calls to shut down coal and shut down global supply chains – “smashing the state” was even a topic explored at the recent All About Women feminist conference. Little concern is expressed for the workers in any of these industries. Undoubtedly anti-free trade, and yet bizarrely pro-sex trade, the feminist left seeks to undermine capitalist industries, except the one industry responsible for some of the most heinous human rights violations on earth, all the while proudly declaring its impeccable moral bona fides.

The standard defence for this hypocritical position relies on the notion that “any exploitation is bad, sexual exploitation is no different.” This is echoed by the more explicitly socialist version, “all work is exploitative under capitalism, so work involving sex is no different.” Amnesty International draws on this to explain that all labour exploitation is equally bad. Yet it doesn’t take a trauma therapist or criminal lawyer to know that sexual crimes are treated differently from non-sexual offences for good reason. There is a world of difference between being forced to wash dishes against one’s will, and a person being forced to have sex against their will, usually for years or decades.

Amnesty and their supporters in the Australian feminist media argue that there are sufficient laws to deal with sexual exploitation and trafficking, including child sex abuse. They argue that not all prostitution involves sex trafficking.

On the contrary, all sex trafficking results in prostitution and any increase in the industry influences rates of trafficking. Research out of various European states, including the London School of Economics, has shown that any legalization of the sex trade significantly increases the flows of sex trafficking. An international study of male sex-buyers found that fully one quarter preferred women under the age of 18, with a universal preference for young women. This is reflected in Thai estimates that the sex industry involves around 40% children. Research shows over half of the women in Sydney’s sex trade are from overseas and many lack English comprehension.

The Australian feminist media not only evades many of these issues, but effectively represses these women’s stories by focusing solely on Australians who engage in sex work of their own volition.

While the causes and solutions to sexual exploitation are complex and varied, the Australian feminist left leaves little room for any perspective other than their own – that is, the privileged, naive position that they so despise, yet doggedly espouse in equal measure. After all, the author who claims to have drafted Amnesty’s pro-pimp policy is Douglas Fox, a man with vested interest in UK brothels. The endorsement of sexual exploiters is now the purview of Australia’s feminist progressives. You find friends in the strangest places, right Sharky?

 

 

 

Does decriminalising pimping further women’s rights? by Dr. Meagan Tyler

Amnesty International delegates have voted in favour of adopting a policy for the full decriminalisation of prostitution. This represents not only the “decriminalisation of sex work”, as proponents have claimed, but also the decriminalisation of pimping, brothel-keeping and sex-buying. It is a move some feminists have labelled a “betrayal of women’s human rights”.

Many sex industry groups and other human rights organisations have openly supported Amnesty International’s decision. Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth tweetedhis approval:

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.29.19

But the policy has been met with scathing criticism from a wide range of women’s groups, sex trade survivors’ groups, and grassroots organisations working at the frontlines of ending men’s violence against women.

These include: the Institute for Feminism and Human Rights, the European Women’s LobbyEquality NowEaves charity for womennia, the London Abused Women’s CentreTerre Des FemmesResistenza FemministaSPACE InternationalKvinnofrontenSex Trade 101,Vancouver Rape ReliefAF3IRM, Apne Aap and the Victims of Prostitution and Poverty Alliance, and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – to name but a few.

All of these organisations agree with Amnesty International about the need to decriminalise prostituted persons. But, there is deep disagreement about anything beyond that.

Read more at The Conversation