At its International Council Meeting to be held in Dublin, from 7–11 August 2015, Amnesty International will reportedly review an internal circular entitled “Draft Policy on Sex Work,” which endorses the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including the legalization of pimping, brothel owning and the buying of sex.
Medical professionals, the testimonies of survivors and extensive research all demonstrate that the sex industry is predicated on dehumanization, degradation and gender violence that can cause life-long physical and psychological harm to those exploited at the hands of pimps, traffickers and buyers of sex (or “johns”). Prostitution is a harmful practice steeped in gender and economic inequalities that leaves a devastating impact on those sold and exploited in the sex trade.
Former President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center urge AI to consider carefully human rights concerns that arise with the legalization of prostitution. Former President Carter has spoken out on this issue asserting that all forms of commercial sexual exploitation are a profound violation of human rights. He also wrote an open letter to AI Secretary General Salil Shetty in 2014, urging the rejection of the legalization proposal.
The record is clear: wherever prostitution has been legalized, the result is more exploitation and abuse, not less. Alternatives to legalization exist, especially the so-called “Nordic Model”, based on efforts undertaken in Iceland, Norway and particularly Sweden as well as local jurisdictions in a number of other countries. The implementation of the Nordic Model has resulted in a decline in prostitution and trafficking, as well as the promotion of alternative livelihoods for people leaving prostitution.