I was in Europe doing research for Female Sexual Slavery in 1977 when I met with the Executive Director of Amnesty International in London. I had thought, naively, that in following their mandate to address state torture, Amnesty would have had documentation of the traffic in women and children. Instead what I got was: Sexual slavery? Traffic in women? Never happened. That was a fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. And of course this was capped off with the tiresome “sex between consenting adults,” mantra that excuses and enables men who buy women. Even then, as they have done in their latest campaign to promote prostitution through decriminalization of pimps and buyers, in the words of own Meghan Murphy, “they are just making shit up and stating it as fact!!?!?”
Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson have formulated a human rights model for non-state torture. Instead of confining guarantees of human rights protections only to victims of state torture, in their approach to United Nations human rights law, prostitution and all forms of violence against women would be considered “non-state torture.”
Mounting a global campaign to make sexual exploitation a violation of human rights would give strength and support to state campaigns to bring down the heinous legalization of prostitution which India and other less developed countries are considering. Former President Jimmy Carter also speaks to the need for this Convention and calls upon the United Nations to adopt it. Under the direction and with the human rights commitment of the Carter Center’s Karin Ryan, a meeting of activists adopted these recommendations at a May 2015 World Summit: Ending Sexual Exploitation 2025 which supports the Convention Against Sexual Exploitation.
At no other time in history have we had the voices of survivors speaking out about the repeated harm done to them when they were bought by customers. Amnesty’s August 11, 2015 decision to adopt a pro-prostitution policy is a slap in their faces, a call to send them back to the streets and brothels. It also calls for the deprivation of global human rights adopted by United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II. Amnesty joins other sex industry driven organizations who have colonized the world of global human rights. UN AIDS, UN Development Programs and UN Women now, like Amnesty, recognize the “rights” of “sex workers” — the chief promoters of and fronts for the male/misogynist sex industries.
If we are to retain global human rights and if women are not to be reduced to men’s sexual objects, then we must bring our global outrage over Amnesty’s promotion of the sex industry to the United Nations, demanding the Convention Against Sexual Exploitation which shall include formulations of non-state torture — that which men do to the women they buy for “sex.”
We have the commitment, we know what needs to be done. Let us see who in the human rights community will step forward with the support to enable us to mount this campaign. The alternative is to leave women, globally, to live with sex industry’s continued colonization of women’s bodies and continued erosion of human rights.
We dare not let that happen.