Amnesty International to Vote on Sex Work Decriminalisation Move

It is a very important day today, with Amnesty International’s international council voting today as to whether they should advocate the decriminalisation of sex work. For months we have heard that the greatest human rights group on the planet will be debating whether to take this monumental step, and now the day is finally here.

Sexy young woman in lingerie lying.

A Strong Case

Amnesty’s leaked proposal says decriminalisation would be “based on the human rights principle that consensual sexual conduct between adults is entitled to protection from state interference” so long as violence or child abuse or other illegal behaviour isn’t involved.

The argument in favour of decriminalisation is compelling. If you bring an industry into the light, then it will make it safer. The stigma attached to the prostitution will be eroded, and the girls and boys who engage in sex work will be much more willing to go to the police.

This approach has been taken in Germany, with a 2002 law legalising sex work. This has given prostitutes access to benefits such as health insurance and pensions.

Brothel owner and sex worker Felicitas Schirow is a big fan of the German move.

“The owners of brothels could invest money,” she says, “and the women could pick a good employer where they felt at home and who met their requirements.”

Now it is safe to say that there hasn’t been whole hearted support for the Amnesty International stance. As well as a few anti-trafficking groups, we have had celebrities like Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet criticise the leaked draft proposal. Hey, if there is anyone who would understand what the life of sex worker is like and the best way to keep them safe, it would be a multi-millionaire actress from Hollywood……

The Swedish Model

This is all in contrast to the Swedish model which has been brought in in Sweden (OK, that is pretty obvious) Iceland, Canada, Norway, and more recently, Northern Ireland. Those particular proposals criminalise the purchase of sex, and leave the escort alone. The idea is that it restricts the demand side of the chain.

However, the effectiveness of this approach has been seriously questioned. Dr Jay Levy has studied the proposals and feels that police figures saying prostitution has gone down are false and misleading. Instead, he feels that prostitution has been pushed underground into more ‘private’ places, making it inherently more dangerous for those involved.

“It basically reduces safety,” he says. “It reduces the amount of time that prostitutes have to suss out a situation. And because clients are criminalised, they are reluctant to leave any information by which they can be traced.”

Judgement Day

Now I have no idea how this will turn out later. All I can say is that I hope that they stick to their guns and do what is right for all those who make the choice to work in the sex industry. Yes, we all want to stop trafficking and violence against sex workers, but you don’t do that by placing the industry into the shadows. I have never been able to fathom out why anyone would think that would work.

The worst accusation that could be made against the Swedish model supporters is that they don’t actually care about safety and practicality; they just want to send a message to society that sex work is disgusting. Hey, if a few escorts get murdered then so be it, it may send a message that they should be doing something else.

Now I’m not saying that attitude is prevalent (how would I know?) I just find it very strange when people want to make laws through ‘ivory tower moralising’ and not for the benefit of their electorate. We need to remember that equal rights are for everyone, not just those who think they are morally superior.

Martin Ward
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Martin Ward

Martin Ward is a well respected editor and writer with over five years experience in the adult industry. After stints in the Escort Advertising call centre and on the escort forum, he moved into the site editor position around three years ago.

Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.

When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
Martin Ward
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