Amnesty OKs pol­icy to de­crim­i­nal­ize sex trade


Amnesty In­ter­na­tional ap­proved a con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy Tues­day to en­dorse the de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of the sex trade, re­ject­ing com­plaints from some women’s rights groups who say it is tan­ta­mount to ad­vo­cat­ing the le­gal­iza­tion of pimp­ing and brothel own­ing.

At its de­ci­sion-mak­ing fo­rum in Dublin, the hu­man rights watchdog ap­proved the res­o­lu­tion to rec­om­mend “full de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of all as­pects of con­sen­sual sex work.” It ar­gues its re­search sug­gests de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion is the best way to de­fend sex work­ers’ hu­man rights.

“We rec­og­nize that this crit­i­cal hu­man rights is­sue is hugely com­plex and that is why we have ad­dressed this is­sue from the per­spec­tive of in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights stan­dards,” said Salil Shetty, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional. “We also con­sulted with our global move­ment to take on board dif­fer­ent views from around the world.”

Amnesty’s de­ci­sion is im­por­tant be­cause it will use its heft to lobby gov­ern­ments around the world to ac­cept its point of view. Ad­vance word of the Amnesty pol­icy sparked op­po­si­tion from some women’s groups who ar­gued that the hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tion has made a se­ri­ous mis­take. The groups, such as the U.S.-based Coali­tion Against Traf­fick­ing in Women, have ar­gued that while it agrees with Amnesty that those who are pros­ti­tuted should not be crim­i­nal­ized, full de-crim­i­nal­iza­tion would make pimps “busi­ness­peo­ple” who could sell the vul­ner­a­ble with im­punity.

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