Amnesty International is currently in the process of considering a global policy on sex work.
We have been aware of the need to develop our thinking on this issue for a while, informed by work on our Stop Violence Against Women campaign, and then on poverty and human rights. Both campaigns highlighted gaps in our policies as they relate to the human rights of sex workers.
For these reasons, our International research headquarters (the International Secretariat) undertook a study of the issue and has proposed a draft policy for consultation.
The draft policy proposes the decriminalisation of activities relating to the buying or selling of consensual sex between adults, on the basis that this is the best means to protect the rights of sex workers and ensure that these individuals receive adequate medical care, legal assistance and police protection.
However, we acknowledge that these issues are complex and opinion is polarised. Proponents of different policy responses invoke core human rights principles in justifying their positions. As a human rights organisation, we therefore think it is important to consider our position in this debate.
We value debate and have not yet endorsed any particular position.
The final decision on the policy will be made by the movement’s International Board informed by the consultation undertaken by Amnesty offices around the world.
There are more than 50 national sections of Amnesty worldwide, of which Amnesty UK is one.
Ultimately, Amnesty UK’s position will be determined by our members and so we are encouraging all Amnesty UK members to take part in the debate.
To do so please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your membership details and full postal address and we will send you the consultation documents. Alternatively, you may write to us with your membership details at the address below. Please state your membership details and full postal address in any communications:
Consultation on sex work
c/o Chief Executive’s Office
Amnesty International UK
Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
The deadline for consultation is 21 March 2014.
Amnesty UK members will have a further opportunity to discuss the issue at our Annual General Meeting on 12-13 April 2014, and will vote to decide on our position as a section of Amnesty, which we will then represent at the global decision-making bodies of Amnesty.
Anti-censorship feminists question why only some forms of sexist communication (namely sexually arousing/explicit ones) should be banned, while not advocating bans against equally misogynist public discourse. Susie Bright notes, “It’s a far different criticism to note that porn is sexist. So are all commercial media. That’s like tasting several glasses of salt water and insisting only one of them is salty. The difference with porn is that it is people fucking, and we live in a world that cannot tolerate that image in public.’