Amnesty International adopted the new policy Wednesday and urge governments to follow suit.
Amnesty International, a powerful coalition of over 7 million human rights advocates across the globe, moved to adopt a brand new policy on the buying and selling of sex Wednesday that is sure to cause ripple effects.
The organization has come out in support of the decriminalization of sex work and are urging governments to follow suit in order to protect people who have engaged in consensual sex transactions, the Huffington Post reports.
The new policy, based on years of research and consultation with sex workers, urges governments to decriminalize both the buying and selling of consensual sex, to include sex workers in the development of laws that affect them, to protect them from “harm, exploitation and coercion” and to help them access education and employment options. The group said that while it still considers human trafficking and sexual exploitation to be “abhorrent human rights abuses,” sex workers’ lack of legal rights and fear of the police is marginalizing them and driving their work underground, where they are more likely to suffer physical abuse and less likely to seek legal and social services.
“Sex workers are among the most vulnerable people in society and are routinely subjected to violence, discrimination, and harassment,” said Margaret Huang, interim executive director of Amnesty International USA. “They cannot turn to the police and have very few options for protection.”
In their press release, Amnesty claims to have interviewed sex workers from Norway, Hong Kong, Argentina, and Papua New Guinea, which have varying policies on the matter, as a part of their extensive research. The findings suggest that sex workers often do not report abuse or crime because they are afraid of law enforcement.
A number of other organizations have joined Amnesty in their call for the decriminalization of sex work including Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, and the World Health Organization, among others.
While Amnesty and others argue that the policy change will protect sex workers and help them access better lives, many conservative groups are adamantly opposed to the change.
Huff Post continues:
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an anti-pornography group, said decriminalizing sex work will only encourage human trafficking.
“Full decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, sex buyers, and sex traffickers,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the group. “Under Amnesty International’s irresponsible policy these exploiters become mere ‘sex business operators’ and ‘customers,’ and the sexual violence and abuse inherent to prostitution is normalized as a form of ‘work.’”