Sex-workers

August 11, 2015; BBC News, “World”

Amnesty International voted in Dublin two weeks ago to support the decriminalization of prostitution worldwide. Amnesty joins the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, the World Health Organization, and other global groups that argue the best way to protect the safety of people who sell sex is to legalize the industry. However, there are vigorous and high profile opponents to the move. The Coalition Against Trafficking Women has attracted such Hollywood stars as Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet to oppose Amnesty. The celebrity actors joined women’s rights campaigners and former workers in the sex trade in an open letter to Amnesty, which said, in part:

Every day, we combat male access to women’s bodies through power and control, from female genital mutilation to forced marriage; from domestic violence to violation of reproductive rights. The exchange of money for such access does not eliminate the violence women face in the sex trade…

Amnesty’s reputation in upholding human rights for every individual would be severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters rather than with the exploited.

A petition launched on change.org has attracted over 4,000 signatures. Former president Jimmy Carter has also urged Amnesty to be very careful before it changes its stance.

On the other side of the argument is Josh Brandon, a L