Prostitution is a hazardous occupation, harmful to the prostitute and her client as well as their families and society. Its negative social effects also include the cost of disease and injuries to which prostitution gives rise. In rape, the security of a woman’s person is assaulted and stolen: in prostitution, it is assaulted, stolen and sold. Women in prostitution not only began poor, they are systematically kept poor by pimps who take the lion’s share of what they earn. Survivors of prostitution often report that each act of prostitution felt like a rape. In order to endure the multiple invasions of their bodies, women use drugs and alcohol to numb the assaults to their dignity and bodily integrity. Soon there remains no integrity and certainly no dignity. Eventually, the women’s physical and emotional health is destroyed
There are numerous reasons why people become involved in prostitution. Many have been affected by a weakening economy, experienced change or loss of households, are coerced by parents/”pimps” or simply because they have low self esteem. It has been estimated that between 28,000 and 30,000 of South Africa’s prostitutes are under the age of 18. Also, about half the child prostitutes are between 10 and 14 years of age and the other half between 15 and 18.3. Their lives are ruled by “pimps” and gangs who often take their money in exchange for protection, food or drugs.
Prostitutes are notorious for not practicing safe sex. In addition, they are often victims of rape and assaults and are at a constant risk of acquiring and spreading HIV/AIDS and other infectious sexually transmitted diseases. Legalisation of prostitution will not end abuse; it will make abuse legal. Legalisation only allows criminals and members of organized crime rings to become legitimate businessmen and work hand-in-hand with the state in marketing women’s bodies. Prostitution is ultimately sexual slavery. Like all forms of slavery, the goal should be to eliminate it, not to make it legal so that it is more controlled.
Doctors for Life (DFL) oppose the legalisation of prostitution, but we support the care and restoration of prostitutes to a life that allows them to be safe and restores their dignity. DFL is committed to helping those who are entrapped by prostitution. DFL has counselling and rehabilitation available for those bound by this lifestyle and profession. There is freedom from prostitution and a new life awaits you.
Bribery, Corruption and Now Prostitution. Is South Africa a Soft Target?
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Enquiries: Vaughan Luck
Cell: 078 748 9884
Office: 032 481 5550
South Africa seems to be going in the opposite direction to the rest of the world on the issue of decriminalizing prostitution, meanwhile in South Africa it seems to be gaining momentum and the question Doctors For Life International would like to ask is… “Why?”
Billboards put up by the Department of Health in Gauteng a few months ago said “I like to give my clients pleasure, not HIV”. This implies that being a prostitute is a joyful, meaningful experience, given by a lady wanting to provide an all-important service to her client. Isn’t prostitution illegal in South Africa?
DFL urgently appeals to the government take a more official and visible stance towards the total abolition of prostitution in order to ensure that our teenagers from the most impoverished communities that flock to Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and other cities, seeking out a better life don’t see prostitution as a viable option of employment.
Why would a government that is supposed to have the best interests of its people at heart want to make it acceptable to sell themselves, for sex, on a street corner or under the control of a ruthless pimp in a brothel; to make sexual exploitation, violence and paid rape legal.
DFL recommends that a few MP’s from government put themselves in the prostitute’s shoes before making any decisions on whether it should be an option as a profession.
The Deputy President said not so long ago that the government wants to start a program to hand out condoms to prostitutes. There is no “condom” for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Condoms are already freely available. This is not going to protect sex workers from physical violence, rape or mental conditions.
Numerous studies have shown that programs to promote safe sex practices are notorious for failing in their objectives;
1. There are many STD’s that are transferred by skin contact not body fluids alone.
2. Poor mental health and self-esteem as well as drug habits may actually undermine their motivation and ability to adopt safer sex behaviours. If you feel worthless why bother to protect and look after yourself.
3. Decriminalizing prostitution creates a buyer’s market rather than a seller’s market. Competition for customer’s increases. Consequently, sex workers desperate for cash would be open to offers of more money for unsafe sex practises.
There is a reason why more prostitutes suffer with PTSD than war veterans returning home from war (80% compared to 69%) and it is not because of the “perks of the job” that’s for sure.
Buying a slave a mattress so the slave doesn’t have to sleep on the floor does not take away the fact that the slave is still a slave. No wonder people worked so hard for the total abolition of slavery.
Prostitution is illegal in over 90% of the world. Those countries where it has been decriminalized are seeing increases in child sex trafficking and HIV rates and are now pushing for the abolishment of prostitution completely. Germany, for example, has over 400 000 sex workers now, more than half of these workers are from other countries and are there illegally. This is a dramatic increase compared to before it was legal. South Africa has over 150 000 adult sex workers and over 38 000 child prostitutes according to the 19th edition of the South African Health Review.
France recently made the buying of sex illegal in an effort to abolish the selling/trafficking of women into sexual slavery. It is just one of a list of countries making prostitution illegal.
Pro-decriminalization groups see SA as an easy target, due to the lawless perception we are portraying to the rest of the world. Bribery and corruption seem to have become pillars of South African society.
In New South Wales (Australia) where prostitution is legal it is reported that about 10% of the total incidences of STI’s was prostitution derived. This is in a state where less than 0.06% of the females were regularly employed as prostitutes and only 4-5% of the male population were regular customers. This indicates a considerable impact.
If you translate those figures to SA where prostitution is rife it demonstrates how making prostitution legal will only help in the further spread of HIV and Aids.
To say that by decriminalizing prostitution you are helping is a paradox. The violence against women will not stop, rape will not stop, being held as a sex slave by a pimp will not stop, as can be seen in the comprehensive study; “Prostitution and Trafficking in 9 Countries-An update on Violence and PTSD”.
All decriminalization does is say that this now becomes part of the job description. There is a big difference to being able to report rape and stopping it from happening all together.
The only way to protect our women and children from prostitution is to stop prostitution from becoming acceptable as a career choice, after all none of us would ever want our children to come home and say; Mommy, Daddy I want to be a prostitute when I grow up.
Doctors For Life International is an association of more than 1600 specialists and medical doctors. Doctors For Life endeavours to promote public health by upholding sound science in the medical profession. For more information, please visit…
Ramaphosa’s regressive prostitution statement
Doctors For Life International (DFL) is extremely distraught about statements made by the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 12 of March in connection with the provision of condoms to women caught up in prostitution in order to bring respect and dignity to them and protect their human rights.
In the first place DFL does not see it as the duty or the right of individual members of government to reprimand the police for maintaining law and order. That kind of behaviour would fit in with an autocratic form of government, something of which South Africans have become extremely aware of recently.
We would also encourage Mr Ramaphosa to consult with all role players that will represent the whole spectrum of opinions on the matter, before starting to make public statements that create the impression of nullifying existing legislation and create the impression that he is being led by the nose by one or two pressure groups. Keep in mind that The Constitutional Court in S v Jordan and Others in 2002 (6) SA 642 decided that the criminalization of prostitution does not amount to unfair discrimination. It would seem that Mr. Ramaphosa does not trust the findings of the constitutional court.
Policy shapers would do well to keep in mind that there are certain “rights” that no decent society would allow individuals to exercise e.g. the right to sell yourself into slavery or the right to sell your organs. The reason being that we do not want to create a society where the poor can be accused of not having tried their best to get out of poverty because they have not yet sold themselves or any of their organs.
No wonder, Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen stated: “Almost five years after the lifting of the brothel ban, we have to acknowledge that the aims of the law have not been reached.” Instead we find ourselves “in the midst of modern slavery”.
In the past 10 years that DFL have been helping women to exit prostitution and provide them with skills training, we have found the reality of prostitution to be very different from the picture Mr Ramaphosa may have. Poverty is by far the most common cause why girls from rural areas are flocking to the cities and selling themselves to ruthless pimps and madams and clients who exploit them. Starting off with R500 per client and soon selling themselves for R10 per client. Once a woman has reached that point they will do anything to make money because they have no other skill and are often addicted to drugs. A client just need to offer R20 for unprotected sex and they will jump for it even if they have a dozen condoms in their pockets. Most of these girls anyway know by then exactly at which filling stations or other public places they can get access to free condoms.
PTSD is the most serious mental disorder that psychologists can measure in a human. Numerous studies have come out over the last few decades that demonstrate a relationship between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and prostitution. The prevalence off PTSD furthermore remains consistently between 60% and 86% whether prostitution is practiced in a legal or illegal setting, with Columbia, one of the countries where it is legal, leading the pack at 86%. (Compare this to the prevalence amongst war veterans of maximum 67%)
Linda Fairstein, a Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, mentioned that studies characterize the violence that emanates from prostitution as “brutal, extreme, common, stunning, normative, and ever-present…”. Indeed, physical and sexual violence across prostitution types is pervasive—whether one is prostituting in Chennai or Chicago, indoors or outdoors, for drugs or to pay the rent, on a street corner, in a car, back alley, brothel, massage parlour, or strip club—both the threat of, as well as actual violence, permeate everyday existence in the zone.
As long as this violence is contained within the context of the sex trade, where women and other prostituting persons become public sexual property, their trauma is commonly and conveniently reduced to an “occupational health issue” or “workplace violence.” This is a cruel and unjust euphemism.
Imagine what would happen if 25%, 50%, or 89% of the females working in schools, financial or medical institutions, at your local supermarket, or favourite restaurant were subject to the same kinds of violence. Would the world tolerate the phenomenon, tell women that the violence was merely an on-the job hazard, describe their rape as theft of their sexual services or thrust the responsibility for the violence on them by coaching them on a myriad of methods to reduce the risk of violence? Such a response is unimaginable for women outside the zone of prostitution, but for women and others inside the commercial sex trade such perversity is the stuff of daily life.
Without question, the vast majority of physical and sexual violence inflicted on those in the sex trade is perpetrated by those purchasing persons for sex— the sex buyers. While sex buyers may be the principle perpetrators of this savagery, in many cases their exercise of violence is given license by institutions, societies, and governments that establish and endorse various regimes of legal and decriminalized prostitution.
Full decriminalization of prostitution, in which the laws regulating the activities of pimps, sex buyers and sellers are eliminated, represents the most egregious and shocking response to the commercial sex trade. Such an approach transforms pimps into entrepreneurs and sex buyers into mere customers. While decriminalization may redefine deviant and criminal behaviour, it is incapable of transforming pimps into caring individuals who have the best interests of prostituting persons at heart, or metamorphosing sex buyers into sensitive, thoughtful, and giving sexual partners. Decriminalization of prostitution is powerless to change the essential, exploitive nature of commercial sex, and tragically grants it free rein.
Legalizing sex work as a “job” or a “business” only benefits brothel owners and customers seeking sex making their work easier and granting them a veneer of legitimacy. It will give them “full license” to condone violence, sexual abuse — including rape — and verbal abuse that is commonly perpetuated on vulnerable people. Many women’s rights advocates propose instead a stiffening of penalties for johns and pimps.
One wonders whether the handing out of condoms to women caught up in the modern day slavery of prostitution might not be compared to providing slaves with light-weight chains in order to diminish the harm caused by their heavy metal chains. Would it not be more appropriate to get to the condom issue after having dealt thoroughly with the hundreds of thousands of poor rural girls being trafficked daily for sex and having commended and encouraged the police to more vigorously enforce the existing legislation or brought in heavier fines for pimps, madams and clients that are buying sex from these vulnerable girls.
Doctors For Life International is an association of more than 1600 specialists and medical doctors. Doctors For Life endeavors to promote public health by upholding sound science in the medical profession. For more information, please visit
What Amnesty Did Wrong: by Anna Djinn
What Amnesty Did Wrong: by Anna Djinn
At a meeting in Dublin on 11 August 2015, Amnesty International’s International Council adopted a resolution to authorise their International Board to develop and adopt a policy on “sex work”.
Here is a quote from their press release: “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse.” The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.
1. Amnesty ignored international human rights treaties
The 1949 United Nations Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others states that, “prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community”. This therefore defines prostitution as incompatible with the UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948 which guarantees human dignity and integrity to all.
2. Amnesty presented the arguments dishonestly
Amnesty presented the arguments in such a way that unless you were already well informed, you would get the impression that many people are calling for those involved in prostitution to be criminalized. However, in fact, not a single feminist or human rights group or organisation working in the field is calling for this. This way of arguing is sometimes called a straw man argument and is often the sign of a poor argument or an ulterior motive.
3. The resolution is contradictory
Having presented the proposal as all about “sex workers” rights and about protecting and decriminalising “sex workers” it is extraordinary that the final point of the resolution includes the following: “States can impose legitimate restrictions on the sale of sexual services.”
That’s right! Amnesty says states can criminalize selling sex but not buying sex or the “operational aspects” of the industry! This is the exact opposite of what the human rights treaties mentioned above require for compliance and the exact opposite of what the survivor movement and many feminists are calling for.
4. The first version of the policy was written by a pimp
a. If you think that Amnesty, a leading human rights organisation, developed the proposal from a position of protecting the most vulnerable parties – the women and children stuck in prostitution – you would be wrong.
The original policy proposal, from which the resolution developed, was written by Douglas Fox, founder and business partner of Christony Companions – one of the UK’s largest escort agencies – i.e. a pimp who has a powerful vested financial interest in the decriminalisation of pimps and punters.
b. Furthermore, Alejandra Gil the Vice President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) that officially advised UNAIDS on its prostitution policy was jailed on Thursday 12th March for sex trafficking in Mexico City. Over 200 prostitutes were involved in a prostitution ring she was operating. Amnesty International also reference NSWP and the Advisory Group it co-chaired in its draft policy calling for brothel keeping to be decriminalised. NSWP is no fringe group. In 2009 it was appointed Co-Chair of the UNAIDS ‘Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work’. So why is Amnesty International about to adopt Douglas Fox’s proposals as a pimp as well as those of a foremost “madam” (female pimp)? (See complete article further down which is named Annexure: Full Article for Point 4b)
5. Amnesty’s position was decided in advance
The feminist journalist Julie Bindel obtained notes of an Amnesty International meeting held in the UK in 2013 that show that the International Secretariat (IS) had the clear intention of supporting the full decriminalisation of the sex trade prior to the consultation process. Given that Amnesty International’s Secretariat had decided on their position in advance, it is not a surprise that their consultation was something of a sham.
6. The consultation was a sham
When the draft policy/background paper was leaked in early 2014; many survivor and feminist groups condemned the proposal. Members were then offered three weeks (2-21 April 2014) to provide feedback on the document, although most members did not receive notification of this and that members are spread around the globe in more than 70 countries. It is not uncommon to give more notice for a birthday party.
The Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW) published an open letter signed by over 400 advocates and organisations, condemning “Amnesty’s proposal to adopt a policy that calls for the decriminalization of pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex — the pillars of a $99 billion global sex industry.”
Former President Jimmy Carter set up a petition advocating Amnesty to adopt a Nordic Model approach. What is the point of a consultation if you ignore the responses you get?
7. Listening to “sex workers” – but only if they agree
In the run up to the vote in Dublin on 11 August 2015, Amnesty emphasized the importance of listening to “sex workers”. But what does that mean when, as Douglas Fox explained in his interview with Julie Bindel and Cath Elliott, many pimps and brothel owners describe themselves as “sex workers”? And, as Raquel Rosario Sanchez eloquently explains in ‘How to manufacture consent in the sex trade debate’, people who describe themselves as “sex workers” are, almost by definition, in favour of decriminalisation of the sex industry.
Amnesty appears to have deliberately ignored the voices of survivors. And also of the women in prostitution who do not agree with full decriminalisation. Most people in prostitution are marginalised and ignorant of the possible approaches, including that of the Nordic Model.
8. Amnesty’s proposal is based on a false premise
The sex industry is a $99 BILLLION money making machine. It requires a continuous stream of new blood – because women get used up and men demand new faces. But women who have real choices – for example, for decent well-paid work in the computer industry, medicine, nursing, banking or academia – do not usually choose prostitution. Prostitution is not on the menu of career options given to girls from comfortable middle class homes.
9. Conflicts of interest
As mentioned earlier, there is evidence that pimps and others who profit from the sex trade have joined Amnesty in order to influence its policy on prostitution. But there are other powerful vested interests at play. Amnesty receives significant funding from George Soros and the Open Society Foundation, both of whom lobby for the decriminalisation of the sex industry.
In addition there is evidence that Amnesty has received funding from governments, including the UK and US governments, both of which support the neoliberal project of maximising profits at more or less any cost. But the conflict of interest goes deeper than funding. It goes to the root of the relationship between the sexes in our patriarchal capitalist society.
10. Amnesty’s research was flawed
Amnesty conducted research in 4 countries (Papua New Guinea, Norway, Argentina and Hong Kong) that have a variety of legislative approaches to prostitution, including one country (Norway) that has implemented the Nordic Model. Amnesty did not make the full reports publicly available but the leaked final draft policy includes a summary of the “overarching” research findings. This states that they interviewed “80 sex workers” – i.e. an average of 20 in each of the four countries, which is too small a sample to draw conclusive results.
Also, as we saw earlier, the “sex worker” term may include pimps and others with vested interests in the decriminalised approach that Amnesty recommends. The research purports to show “the human rights impact of criminalization of sex work.” However, they did not conduct research in a country (like Holland or Germany) that has implemented a fully decriminalised approach. To show that full decriminalisation is the solution to the problems that they observed, they would need to show that these problems are not present in countries that have implemented that solution.
11. Amnesty is silent on how to address trafficking and child sexual exploitation
Amnesty’s resolution mentions the obligation that states have to prevent and combat sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. But they are silent about how states should go about this. This is a huge and glaring omission.
The reality is that sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation are driven by the enormous profits that can so easily be made. The profits come because large numbers of men are prepared to pay large amounts of money to buy (mainly) women and children for sex. In the UK we regularly hear that traffickers and pimps sell girls and young women for £500-£600 an hour. Anything that legitimizes prostitution inevitably leads to an increase in this demand from men.
12. Amnesty lied about who they’d consulted
In an email response to a protest about Amnesty’s proposed policy, Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada, said the following: “Internationally, Amnesty International has held discussions with hundreds of organizations and many more individuals.” Rachel Moran, survivor of prostitution and co-founder of SPACE International, confirmed in a tweet that in spite of pledging to consult with them in a Committee for Justice Meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 January 2014, Amnesty did not in fact consult with SPACE International. Resources Prostitution, a feminist campaigning organisation, confirmed in a tweet that after months of calling Amnesty begging to talk to them about their proposals, Amnesty responded after the crucial vote on 11 August.
13. So what should Amnesty do now?
It is not too late for Amnesty to admit that it has made very many, very serious mistakes in this matter, not least in allowing itself to be influenced by powerful vested interests. And it is not too late for Amnesty to abandon its current proposals. I sincerely urge Amnesty to do this as a matter of urgency.
Reference: for Points 1 – 13
Annexure: Full Article for Point 4b
A Human Rights Scandal: by Kat Banyard
The Vice President of a group that officially advised a top UN body on its prostitution policy was jailed earlier this year for sex trafficking. So why is Amnesty International about to adopt their policy proposals?
On Thursday 12th March 2015, 64 year old Alejandra Gil was convicted in Mexico City of trafficking and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Gil reportedly controlled a pimping operation that exploited around 200 women. Known as the “Madam of Sullivan”, she was one of the most powerful pimps of Sullivan Street, an area of Mexico City notorious for prostitution. Gil and her son were connected with trafficking networks in Tlaxcala state – site of Mexico’s “epicenter for sex trafficking.”
Madai, a twenty-four year old woman who was trafficked to Mexico City, was one of those who gave evidence against Gil. Speaking to a reporter in Mexico she said, “[Gil’s] job was to watch us from the car. Her son or her took us to hotels and charged us fees. She kept records. She had a list where she kept records of everything. She even wrote down how long you took”. Madai met her trafficker when she was 19 years old. “He wooed me, made me fall in love, and I believed everything he told me. That I would go live with him, that he was going to marry me… He was the one who took me to Alejandra Gil and her son”. Héctor Pérez, the lawyer representing the victims in Gil’s case, told me Gil was handed a fifteen year sentence because, “she received trafficked victims and deceived to exploit them through the exercise of [prostitution].”
In addition to her daily pimping duties, Alejandra Gil side-lined as President of Aproase, an NGO that supposedly advocated for the rights of people in prostitution, but in practice functioned as a useful cover for her pimping operation. And until Gil’s arrest last year, the “Madam of Sullivan” was Vice President of an organisation called the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).
NSWP is no fringe group. In 2009 it was appointed Co-Chair of the UNAIDS ‘Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work’. UNAIDS is the international body responsible for leading global efforts to reverse the spread of HIV, and the advisory group was established to “review and participate in the development of UNAIDS policy, programme or advocacy documents, or statements.” Alejandra Gil is also personally acknowledged in a 2012 World Health Organisation (WHO) report about the sex trade as one of the “experts” who dedicated her “time and expertise” to developing its recommendations. NSWP’s logo is on the front cover, alongside the logos of WHO, UNAIDS and the United Nations Population Fund.
Amnesty International also reference NSWP and the Advisory Group it co-chaired in its draft policy calling for brothel keeping to be decriminalised – a proposal that has been condemned by prostitution survivors and equality groups around the world, including SPACE International, Women’s Aid and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Amnesty’s policy, due to be finalised this month, cites “human rights organisations” that endorse their proposal: “Most significantly,” they write, “a large number of sex worker organisations and networks, including the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, support the decriminalisation of sex work”.
How could this happen? How could a pimp wind up second in command at a global organisation that officially advised UN agencies on prostitution policy and that is referenced in Amnesty International’s draft policy? And did the “Madam of Sullivan” divorce her interests as a pimp when she was putting demands to governments and global institutions on behalf of NSWP?
She didn’t have to. NSWP campaigned for “third parties” in prostitution to be decriminalised. This, they state, includes “managers, brothel keepers… and anyone else who is seen as facilitating sex work”[i]. The organisation also insists that “Sex workers can be employees, employers, or participate in a range of other work related relationships.”[ii] According to NSWP policy, as a pimp Alejandra Gil was a “sex worker” who’s precise role was a “manager” in the trade. The organisation lobbies for pimping and brothel keeping to be legally recognized as legitimate work. To fulfil her role as Vice President of NSWP, Gil didn’t have to mask her vested interests as a pimp; she had a mandate to pursue them.
Those interests have been pursued with startling success through some of the world’s top human rights institutions. What happened in 2007 is key to understanding how Gil’s group pulled it off. That year UNAIDS published a ‘Guidance Note‘ on how countries should respond to the HIV crisis in the context of a prostitution trade. They rightly concluded that to tackle the HIV crisis it was important to tackle demand for prostitution: “it is possible and timely to achieve social change, and consequently behavioral change among men, to reduce the demand for sex work.” Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go down well with Gil’s organisation, which expressed its “concern”, via a working group, about the report’s “emphasis on reducing commercial sex”[iii].
Inexplicably, UNAIDS responded by appointing NSWP – which openly promotes pimping and brothel keeping as ordinary ‘work’ – as Co-Chairs of its new Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work. A revised version of UNAIDS’ Guidance Note was duly published, this time carrying an annex prepared by the Advisory Group. It recommends: “States should move away from criminalizing sex work or activities associated with it. Decriminalisation of sex work should include removing criminal laws and penalties for purchase and sale of sex, management of sex workers and brothels, and other activities related to sex work.” That report is now a go-to reference for groups lobbying governments to make pimping and brothel keeping legal.
It is the legal model advocated by NSWP – full decriminalisation of the sex trade – that Amnesty International’s leadership voted in August to endorse, and plans to adopt as official policy this month. Amnesty maintains their policy is the result of two years research and is the best option available to protect the human rights of people that some men pay for sex. Having myself spent the last two years researching the sex trade for a book, I can confidently say that to suggest Amnesty’s researchers ‘missed a bit’ doesn’t even come close to accounting for the travesty that is the organization’s draft policy. Brothel keeping, pimping, paying for sex: these are forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Amnesty International is about to call for a form of violence against women to be decriminalised, allowing states to take on a role akin to a pimp: sanctioning and licensing brothels, and taxing the women in them.
As Esohe Aghatise, Anti-Trafficking Manager at Equality Now, says “It is shocking that a convicted trafficker would influence policy, which is, in itself, incompatible with human rights and international law. We need to end the demand which fuels sex trafficking, rather than decriminalize those who benefit from the exploitation of others. UN agencies need to urgently clarify their position on the sex trade – particularly in light of this new damning evidence”.
Without question, those who are paid for sex should be completely decriminalised. But those who sexually exploit – pimps, brothel keepers and sex buyers – should not. They are perpetrators – not entrepreneurs or consumers. Mia de Faoite, a survivor of prostitution, told me, “I left prostitution utterly destroyed as a human being and I cannot fathom how that level of violence could ever be sanctioned and classed as ‘work’.”
That convicted trafficker Alejandra Gil and her group have been so closely involved in UN agencies’ policy making on prostitution is nothing short of a human rights scandal. Clearly, UNAIDS must urgently conduct a thorough, transparent review of all policies NSWP has advised it on and investigate how this could have happened. As for Amnesty International, it would be abhorrent to see the organisation proceed with its call for full decriminalisation of the sex trade – because it really doesn’t take a conviction for trafficking by a leading proponent to work out who benefits most when states make brothel-keeping and pimping legal.
Amnesty International or Impunity International?
Amnesty International’s International Board is developing a policy document that it is believed will support full decriminalization of prostitution. Decriminalization of prostitution is one of the world’s most disastrous approaches to the sex trade because:
1) it is a gift to pimps and sex buyers allowing them to carry out their activities as mere “sex business operators” and “customers,”
2) it normalizes sexual violence and exploitation as a “job.” If approved, Amnesty’s support of decriminalized prostitution will undermine the human rights of persons in the sex trade (the majority of whom are females), and give impunity to perpetrators of sexploitation.
Amnesty International has betrayed the cause of human rights through its looming policy in favor of decriminalizing prostitution.
Decriminalizing prostitution is a gift to pimps, sex traffickers, and sex buyers that confers a right to buy and sell other human beings. Such policies would not protect the persons in prostitution, but rather guarantee that their exploitation will continue.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is now launching a new campaign entitled No Amnesty For Pimps to oppose Amnesty’s policy and to educate the public about how prostitution is an inherently exploitive system that requires Abolition, not social sanction.
Canada – Prostitution law consultations
The Calgary Police Chief wants to outlaw prostitution altogether. “You can create a series of laws where you come down hard on the user and look at the provider as a victim.” Officers need the law as a tool to give them access to victimised men and women who were coerced into sex work. In that way you have courses of action to move that person towards treatment or counselling or getting them out of that lifestyle.
Firstly we would like to thank everybody who has supported the LifePlace project in any way. As many of you may know, LifePlace in Durban has closed due to a conglomeration of various factors. In spite of this, the outreach team is still steaming ahead with weekly outreaches to reach out to women on the street, and on average, we speak to about 30 ladies per outreach. They have many different problems, ranging from homelessness and drug addiction, to being HIV positive, pregnant as well as being physically and emotionally broken through abuse. Many of them say that they are like zombies being dragged along by their addictions, but that they cannot help themselves. They also say that even though they know what they are doing is wrong, they don’t know how to get out and live a different life. There are many instances where we have been able to help the girls in different ways. Some have started working and are off the streets, others have had their relationships with their families restored, while some have even been rescued from death itself. There is much work to be done but there are just a few labourers. The team that often goes out has a passion and a heart for the lost, and we are very thankful for all the effort they put into the work.
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