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Global Network Of Sex Workers Advocacy Projects Calling For Decriminalization

Support Amnesty International’s proposed policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work

by Daniel Johnson


After extensive review of countless studies, Amnesty International issued a call to decriminalize self-initiated sex workers and focus enforcement on people being forced into the trade by gangs of kidnappers and human traffickers. A draft policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work is scheduled to be tabled for adoption at the International Council Meeting, 6-11th August 2015. 

The rationale, in simple terms, is that the difference between a sex slave and a sex worker are as different from any kind of slave and any kind of worker, and enforcement against human traffickers, etc. is no excuse for keeping laws in place against sex work that criminalize women trying to make an independent living.

In fact, since the enforcement of these laws primarily targets independent sex workers, since they're easier prey for police than the slave traders who have vast criminal networks that are harder for law enforcement to crack, these laws give the gangs a major advantage that allows them to control the trade. 

In fact, much like drug prohibition, it is the laws that keep organized crime in control and very profitable. 

  The dangers that prohibition causes are the same, varying only by degrees, in every part of the world. Sex workers in Canada have also been vocally demanding change in recent years, with one legal challenge reaching the Supreme Court Of Canada.  That fight has been led by many groups, including the Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. 

Sqaring off in support of Amnesty's position is the NSWP. 

  According to their website, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) membership comprises 237 sex worker-led organisations in 71 countries across the globe, including local organisations as well as national and regional networks in the Global South and Global North, representing thousands of sex workers who 'actively oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work.'

In the other corner is the 'Coalition Against Trafficking In Women' (CATW) recently issued a statement and an online petition against Amnesty International's stance. 

  The NSWP issued a statment supporting Amnesty International's position and at the same time condemning, the CATW statement.

They have also created an online petition in support of Amnesty's decriminalization efforts. 

According to the NSWP statement "CATW’s position is stigmatising, discriminatory and misrepresents the facts, conflating sex work with human trafficking. Most importantly it ignores the lived experiences of sex workers, silences their voices and seeks to perpetuate legal systems which place sex workers at increased risk of violence, stigmatisation, and discrimination; as well as limiting their access to health and social services. 

Furthermore, CATW is ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence and the findings of international bodies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, who recommend that governments should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work and The Lancet which recently published a special series on HIV and Sex Workers, which also recommends the decriminalisation of sex work and reported “Decriminalisation of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of HIV infections in the next decade.”

There is a wide recognition among international agencies that the decriminalisation of sex work is necessary to protect and respect the human rights of sex workers. These agencies include; UNAIDS , UNFPA, UNDP, WHO, The World Bank , Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) , Human Rights Watch , the Lancet, Open Society Foundations .

 


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