Amnesty moves to decriminalise prostitution

Amnesty International has called for prostitution to be decriminalised in order to protect human rights.

The proposal drawn up by Amnesty International headquarters says: “The criminalisation of voluntary sex between adults, whether for direct monetary gain or otherwise, threatens the rights to health, non-discrimination, equality, privacy, and security of person.”

The paper, entitled Decriminalisation of Sex Work: Policy Background Document, also states: “Amnesty International understands the imperfect context in which individuals choose to become sex workers (or miners or foreign domestic workers)”.


But lesbian feminist Julie Bindel said she is “dismayed” by the initiative, saying it’s a “grubby collusion with misogyny”.

And a former member of the organisation accused the charity of “betraying women’s rights”.

They told the Daily Mail: “We do not solve the problems for women in the developing world by encouraging them to be prostitutes. Who benefits from that? The men. Prostitution is a form of exploitation and abuse”.


Amnesty International’s policy document also says: “We believe that governments should not be devaluing [prostitutes’] decisions and choices or criminalising the contexts in which they live their lives.”

Julie Bindel added that the proposal goes against the charity’s “entire ethos as a bulwark for people suffering abuse, exploitation and maltreatment”.

“Far from representing any form of advancement for women, the decriminalisation of prostitution would lead to more abuse, more violence, more subjugation”, she explained.


The proposal will be discussed by Amnesty International members around the world, including UK branches of the organisation, and a vote is expected at the AGM in April.

An Amnesty International spokesman told the Daily Mail: “We are aware this is a very sensitive issue and that’s why we are canvassing opinion and encouraging discussion with our members around the world.

“We are only at the beginning of an extensive process of consultation.”


In England and Wales, the act of prostitution is not in itself illegal, but under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence to cause or incite prostitution or control it for personal gain.

The 1956 Sexual Offences Act outlaws running a brothel, and it is illegal to loiter or solicit sex on the street. Kerb-crawling is also against the law, as long as it can be shown the individual was causing a persistent annoyance.