Columnists for The Guardian and The Times have accused Amnesty International of hypocrisy and feeding a system of sexual abuse by campaigning to decriminalise prostitution.
Janice Turner and Catherine Bennett both spoke out against support for legalising prostitution in the UK, following the publicity surrounding Oxfam in Haiti.
They say Amnesty is peddling the “dangerous” view that prostitution is simply a lifestyle choice.
‘Abuse of power’
Amnesty International announced its support for the decriminalisation of prostitution back in 2015.
It said that while the decision to sell sex can be influenced by situations of poverty, such situations do not necessarily negate a person’s consent, except when there are threats of violence or an abuse of authority.
But Turner said: “Paying for sex is always an abuse of power”.
In The Times, she wrote that Amnesty has been “taken over by supporters of libertarian identity politics who regard prostitution not as a system of sexual abuse driven by economic need and inequality but a personal choice”.
The columnist highlighted the obvious conflict of suggesting that ‘sex work’ is empowering, given that “those driven into prostitution are among the most vulnerable women of all”.
Turner noted that the Labour Party has also backed decriminalisation, which she argued “always causes the sex trade to expand”.
Writing in The Guardian, Catherine Bennett shared Turner’s sentiments, saying that prostitution is “the latest, if most extreme, example of women’s objectification to come up for reappraisal”.
She added that the Oxfam scandal could pave the way for a reversal in public policy on prostitution, which she said is currently drifting “towards a free market”.
She concluded by saying that even proponents of legalised prostitution would accept that women should not be reduced to sexual objects for exploitation, and so questioned why they do not view paying for sex as unacceptable.