Amnesty International has voted in favour of decriminalising prostitution, in the face of much opposition.
The decision, made at the organisation’s forum in Dublin, means it has now adopted the position as official policy, and will lobby governments to accept its view.
The policy seeks to protect the “human rights of sex workers, through measures that include the decriminalisation of sex work”.
Human rights violation
But former prostitutes, women’s groups, human rights campaigners and Hollywood actresses have heavily criticised the move.
Bridget Perrier, who was sold into prostitution at the age of twelve, said the decision is a “human rights violation in itself”.
“We feel that Amnesty International are supporting the men who are killing our women and it’s a slap in the face”, she commented.
And former prostitute Rachel Moran called the Amnesty International decision “breathtakingly disgraceful”.
She said, “this is an insult, from the most publicly recognised human rights body in the world, who are saying everything that happened to me was completely normal, above board and ought to be legal”.
A petition against the policy has been been signed by nearly 9,000 people including actresses Anne Hathaway, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.
The celebrity-endorsed petition, addressed to Amnesty International leaders, says that the petitioners are “deeply troubled by Amnesty’s proposal to adopt a policy that calls for the decriminalisation of pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex”.
It adds that Amnesty’s reputation would be “severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters”.
CARE’s Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Policy Officer Louise Gleich said this is a “deeply regrettable decision” by Amnesty.
“Decriminalising prostitution will only empower pimps and brothel owners around the globe”.
Last week, the Guardian newspaper warned in an editorial that Amnesty would be making a “serious mistake” if it recommended the decriminalisation of prostitution, calling it a “distraction” from the organisation’s core mission.