Why should sex work be decriminalized

Decriminalization : Amnesty International criticizes planned prostitution law

Amnesty International's highest decision-making body has been meeting since the weekend. The fact that it was Tuesday evening shows how difficult it was for the world's best-known human rights organization to make this decision: Amnesty is making the rights of sex workers their cause - and is demanding that their work be decriminalized. It is recognized that this "sensitive human rights issue is highly complex", said the secretary general of the organization Salil Shetty after the meeting of its highest decision-making body in Dublin, which also spoke of a "historic day" for his organization.

No license for exploitation

Those who offer sexual services belong "to one of the most marginalized groups in the world and are constantly exposed to the risk of discrimination, violence and abuse". The best way to secure the human rights of sex workers is to free them from state and social repression, said Shetty. This conclusion was drawn from all the information his organization had collected over two years. Sex workers' organizations were questioned, as were the associations of survivors of prostitution, those committed to the abolition of prostitution and feminist and women's rights groups.

Amnesty also made it clear that this should not protect pimps and that it is exclusively about voluntary sex between adults. "Amnesty considers human trafficking in all its forms, including sexual exploitation, to be abhorrent. It should be considered a crime under international law." This is expressly part of the Amnesty resolution.

From the community

A step in the right direction. The decriminalization of prostitution removes the basis of the criminal milieu. Human trafficking and forced prostitution remain prohibited. This is how a shoe becomes out of it.

... writes user Paracelsius

Hollywood stars are also storming

This was exactly the point why parts of the women's movement ran storm against the text in the run-up to the AI ​​meeting in Dublin. Even Hollywood stars like Oscar winners Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson had signed an open letter from the "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women" CATW, in which the "decriminalization of the sex industry" was feared. It is "deeply concerned" that Amnesty is calling for "the decriminalization of pimps, brothel owners and suitors in the $ 99 billion global sex industry." The organization recognized the importance of women's rights only late; the sex work draft will seriously damage their "historical reputation". As a positive example, the letter cites the German government's current reform efforts to reform the old prostitution law because, according to the letter, it had promoted human trafficking.

Bad comments on the net

However, Amnesty has received support from other human rights organizations, sex work activists and other feminists - the women's movement has traditionally been divided on the issue. Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute also spoke out in favor of decriminalizing prostitution. The German Women's Council, the largest umbrella organization of women's associations in the Federal Republic, has been of this opinion for a long time. The German Association of Women Lawyers has also positioned itself in this way. The "Global Network for Sex Work Projects" accused the other side of being ignorant in its own open letter. Those affected know "that every form of criminalization (including the criminalization of customers) directly worsens our living and working conditions". In Sweden, where prostitution is banned, the number of Thai massage parlors offering sex has tripled in three years.

From the community

A civilized man should only (want to) have sex if his counterpart, whether male or female, wants to have sex with him and not his money. The man who buys sex is a poor sausage.

... writes user Xanthippe

Opponents and supporters gave each other nothing even after the decision on Tuesday. On Twitter, the head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, was mocked in a photo montage: "Rich men, end poverty! Pay needy women to suck your cock." The other side paid back with a similar coin: If the poor whores were only freed, they could go cleaning for rich actresses again.

Coalition wants to turn back prostitution policy

Worldwide, New Zealand is currently the only country that has completely given up repression against prostitution and has classified it under trade law. In Sweden the purchase of sex has been banned since 1999, in Canada since December 2014. The socialist government in France is currently trying something similar - with a purchase ban that, like in Sweden, punishes suitors.


Amnesty International calls for prostitution to be decriminalized. How do you feel about it?

In Germany, which recognized sex work as work for the first time with the Prostitution Act of the Schröder government, but only partially managed liberalization, the Merkel government has also ordered its way back in its coalition agreement. The SPD and the Union negotiated a "Prostitute Protection Act" for a long time, which is intended to replace the previous Prostitution Act and the draft of which was recently available. It prohibits certain sex practices, obliges sex workers to provide health advice and also wants to introduce mandatory reporting for them. Wilhelmine Germany already used this means of prostitution control, and the whore movement has always fought it particularly bitterly. As long as sex work is still heavily stigmatized by society, so the argument goes, a whore register will open the door to blackmail and the outing of those who work in the industry. Stricter requirements for the approval of brothels, on the other hand, which the coalition is also planning, are hardly controversial among sex work organizations or are welcomed by them.

Also German human rights experts against criminalization

Germany's national human rights institution also thinks little of taking action against prostitution by law and the police. During the hearing in the Bundestag last May, the German Institute for Human Rights spoke out in favor of distinguishing between human trafficking and voluntary prostitution. Punishing suitors like in Sweden is tricky because it is often they who call in the police when they notice abuses in the brothel. The institute also criticizes the fact that human trafficking is often equated with prostitution. The focus must be on labor exploitation as a whole. Contact points and help for victims of human trafficking to exploit "normal" work were lacking.

Amnesty is also keeping an eye on Germany

As the Tagesspiegel learned from Amnesty, the organization is now also keeping an eye on Germany's planned new prostitution law. As the Tagesspiegel found out when asked by Amnesty International, the obligation to register for sex workers, which the draft law provides, is viewed as just as critical as the obligation to provide health advice. Both violate informational self-determination and bring with them a social stigma. "With the registration there is a risk of being forced out as a prostitute," it said at the organization's headquarters in London.

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