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Human Rights Victory as Amnesty Votes for Decriminalization of Sex Work


Human Rights Victory as Amnesty Votes for Decriminalization of Sex Work

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

In what is being hailed as a historic human rights victory, international delegates for the influential humanitarian organization Amnesty International voted on Tuesday to adopt a resolution to press for the global decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.


When I lived in the city, I often returned from work late at night, early in the morning really, and would pass the ladies on the sidewalk, never was I harassed, never pestered, who would be offended by being asked, “how are you honey?’” Some nights the temperatures were below zero, and they were there. I hoped they were not being forced to be there, in any event, for whatever reason, they were there, they should never be part of the criminal justice system. And Chris Hedges, to the contrary notwithstanding , they will always be there, it’s the nature of the human beast.


This is good news. I hope it sparks a worldwide movement for sanity about sex work. Like the war on drugs, the war on sex work creates victims by criminalizing their actions. The ‘Nordic model’ is like saying, “You can sell lemonade but we’re going to arrest anyone who buys it.” It’s just another face of the same puritanism that views sex work as evil.


As long as it is consensual this would seem to be very much a victimless crime that in a caring society should be decriminalized. But in our coercive, unequal society, where money is required to survive, one may wonder just how ‘consensual’ it really is and what that might mean for deciding that something is or is not ‘consensual.’ On the other hand, surely nothing benefits from contact with the current legal/prison system so it may be that decriminalization is the lesser of two evils and it might be better and clearer thinking to describe it as such.


Chris Hedges, Robert Jensen, the anti-sex-anti-erotica wing of feminism, and other elements of that puritanical wing of the left won’t like this…


I am glad we agree on this issue. We apparently do not on the merits of the ‘free’ market.


As the son, grandson, father, brother, nephew, cousin, colleague and close friend of hundreds of women, many of whom have instructed me, partnered with me, mentored me, counseled me, collaborated with me, and otherwise committed themselves to my well being, I am unable to recognize this as a victory. Supporting the decriminalization of sex work is not some noble progressive political stance, as it also serves as a de facto sanctioning of the forced sex trade. The sex trade is hideous. It is the most pernicious and pervasive form of violence perpetuated by misogynists, psychopaths and sociopaths of the worst kind against women and girls, the overwhelming majority of whom are coerced into unwilling participation in their own victimization. In order to uncritically celebrate Amnesty’s ‘bold’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘enlightened’ position on sex trade liberalization, one must willfully ignore a wide range of glaring facts. Pause a moment to consider some of these. Overwhelmingly it is men who exploit and who profit from the exploitation of economically vulnerable and marginalized women and girls. In many parts of the world, girls begin servicing grown men starting as young as 7 and 8 years old. Most sex “workers” [slaves] are made available to men by traffickers and pimps; they don’t choose to be sex “workers”, they’re forced into these roles.The largest segment of human trafficking across the world is focused on the buying and selling of women and girls for exploitation as sex slaves. These women and girls lead dismal, deeply sad lives of perpetual rape, brutal beatings, disfigurement, mauling and worse. In other words, they are forced to endure unspeakably horrifying, soul-shattering, unendurably hopeless journeys through some of the worst hells humanity has proved capable of sustaining, subject to the whims and predilections of a broad spectrum of depraved human predators. So, before any of us congratulates Amnesty International and human “civilization” for their noble advocacy on behalf of women and girls enmeshed in forced in the global illicit sex trade, consider that the very existence of this system of exploitation is a profound crime, and that advocacy of the rights of these hapless women and girls is tantamount to accepting that crime as inevitable, so we might as well make the best of it. Condoning and enabling this criminal behavior aids and abets the worst offenders, even as it lets the so-called ‘elites’, the educated and professional classes, and the moral ‘leadership’ of global society (all of whom share in a collective shame for not doing enough to end this shredding of innocent souls) off the hook, encouraging the vast majority of the world’s people, to respond to this growing crisis with a wink, a nod, and an indifferent shrug of the shoulders. It is stunning that there are so few authentic human rights activists and feminists consistently and seriously advocating for an end to this deepest form of injustice

Chris Hedges wrote a powerful article about this issue, its historical context and subtexts, explaining how this type of violence against (primarily non-white, non-European) women reflects the economic and political colonization of the developing nations by the world’s dominant economies and corporations. Hard to read it and remain unmoved.


These organizations, among many, are working to end the illicit sex trade and other forms of violence against, and exploitation of women and girls. They are under-recognized and under-funded, like many of their sister organizations seeking to develop and sustain economic, social and political opportunities for the world’s hundreds of millions of poor, vulnerable, marginalized and oppressed women. Look them up. Perhaps you’ll decide you can help where it’s needed most.

Remember, the future advancement or regression of women’s rights, protection and opportunities will parallel and mirror the future advancement or decline of human civilization.