Amnesty should support decriminalisation of sex work

This month, Amnesty International delegates will vote on a proposal to make decriminalisation of sex work a campaigning matter for the human rights organisation. This, understandably, has raised ire from many people, but none so large as parts of the feminist movement.

Just last week, we saw several Hollywood actors – ordinarily staunch allies of Amnesty’s work – sign an open letter promulgated by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women calling for Amnesty to reject the policy. One notable signatory was Anne Hathaway, who received an Oscar two years ago for her portrayal of Fantine in Les Miserables.
Fantine’s story is one that resembles that of many sex workers – after losing her job at Valjean’s factory, and being unable to make ends meet, she turns to selling sex at the docks of Montrieul. Eventually, after she is assaulted by a client, Javert arrests her and sentences her to prison. Only through Valjean’s intervention is Fantine able to die a free woman. Would criminalisation have helped Fantine? Obviously not; solicitation was highly illegal in 19th century France. In addition, like many of these laws, it was a law only ever utilised against the poorest workers. Hugo’s message in telling Fantine’s story was not one against prostitution; it was one of moral judgement failing the most in need.

In a comment piece for the Observer, CATW board member Esohe Aghatise called for the rejection of decriminalised models such as that used in New Zealand in favour of the Nordic model of criminalising clients. She describes the former as failing spectacularly and the latter as working. But nothing could be further from the truth.
To back her claim that decriminalisation hasn’t worked in New Zealand, Aghatise cites a report that apparently states that sex workers are not more likely to report crimes to the police than before decriminalisation. She must not have read the report properly, as it states that over two thirds of sex workers state that they were more likely to report crimes. Furthermore, it proposes mutually beneficial models, such as those working in Christchurch over there and Liverpool over here, as a way of reducing stigmatisation.
Secondly, criminalisation of clients doesn’t work in the Nordic countries. Even a Swedish government report set up to report favourably on the Swedish law stated that there was no evidence that the law had reduced trafficking, the number of clients, or the number of workers.
Also, Amnesty’s own research into Norway paints a harrowing picture: street workers are more likely to receive anti-migrant abuse, the Norwegian police run programmes to get sex workers evicted from their homes, and those workers who are able to stay must take liberties with their safety because of the law.
We should be realistic:  sex work is not without its flaws. Sexual exploitation remains a massive problem in society, after all. We must not pretend that abolition through criminalisation is a panacea. When we talk about the exploitative systems in play in the sex industy, we’re actually talking about exploitation in an uncaring neoliberal world. Yet the “progressive” forces behind the criminalisation effort, from Labour here to the Social Democratic parties in Scandinavia, persist in cutting taxes on the rich and welfare on the poor with no regard for their impact on their society or their historical principles.
There is nothing moral about taking away a woman’s autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit and forcing her to work behind a shop counter for a paltry welfare payment. There is nothing moral by pretending to care about disadvantaged migrant workers, then raiding their flats and deporting them. The only way to reduce exploitation of any kind is to starve the beast that feeds it. Only by liberating people from ignorance, poverty, and conformity can we hope to see a more stronger and fairer society.

* Sarah Noble is an activist in Calderdale. Alongside her role on the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats executive, she shares a keen interest in devolution and transport policy.

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48 Comments

  • Mavarine Du-Marie 8th Aug '15 - 12:54pm

    From the Open Letter: “A vote calling for legalizing pimping would in effect support gender apartheid, in which some women in society can demand protection from rape, discrimination and sexual harassment, while others, the most vulnerable among us, are instead set aside for consumption by men and for the profit of their pimps,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, CATW’s executive director. “This is far from what Eleanor Roosevelt envisioned for the world when she penned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

    This is my concern regarding this. I think debate and resolution still has a long way to go. Please do not forget that Males prostitute themselves out too, so this isn’t just a female problem, it’s about the stigma and oppressive response from society as well which makes this universal.

  • Workfare-and-a-Sandwich was a key plank of Labour’s manifesto this year.

  • Attempting to abolish sex work is a task that is impossible to complete and that harms the very people the attempt would aim to protect. Legalisation and regulation is the best policy approach to take – it is also the most liberal approach, refusing to enforce conformity to particular ideas of sexual morality and refusing to lock people into poverty by stigmatising a past or present prostitute.

    The idea of progress by criminalising the purchaser needs to be criticised, and political parties holding to that notion need to be challenged on it. It isn’t a workable policy idea, it won’t free people who sell sex and won’t make them any safer either. We could also look to the experience in Scotland – has the replacement of a tolerant approach in Edinburgh with a more Glaswegian-style approach to the trade helped? The Liberal Democrats could do worse than to go into next year’s elections with a proposal to introduce New Zealand style licensing, legalisation and regulation to prostitution.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Aug '15 - 4:47pm

    Not all sex workers are female.

  • David Pollard 8th Aug '15 - 6:44pm

    I’m in favour of ‘regulation’ of prostitution.

  • Simon Thorley 8th Aug '15 - 8:58pm

    Excellent article, Sarah. The exploitation of sex workers will continue for as long as they don’t receive the full protection of the law – which can only happen when prostitution is legal, overt and subject to regulation. Authoritarian responses will never be successful as long as demand exists (we see exactly the same situation with drugs, of course).

    “There is nothing moral about taking away a woman’s autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit” – we need to shout this from the rooftops.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Aug '15 - 7:54am

    @ Sarah Noble,
    I am sorry Sarah, but one would have to take a very Eurocentric view of the sex trade to accept your argument of the reasons behind the multi- billion pound sex industry.

    There may be some women who sell sex because they are autonomous and entrepreneurial, but for many, perhaps most, even in the west , women sell sex to survive. I would argue that there is nothing moral about standing back whilst people who objectify these women, exploit a grossly unequal power relationship.

    Amnesty must have taken leave of their senses if they think that the exploitation of vulnerable women is a ‘human right’.

  • Good article. At the core of this is that’s it’s disgraceful that anyone purporting to be acting in the interests of sex workers would do so without asking them what they want. Listen to the sex workers, not the Hollywood stars.

    “There is nothing moral about taking away a woman’s autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit and forcing her to work behind a shop counter for a paltry welfare payment. ”

    This can’t be said enough times.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Aug '15 - 10:05am
  • I don’t see decriminalisation as an ideological stance more than I see it as a practical stance: we know it works, we know that it helps the women in sex work more than any other model (including legalise and regulate, criminalisation of buyers, or full criminalisation). The medical community agrees that decriminalisation of sex work is essential for eradicating AIDS (because it makes the work safer). This is from equally a feminist stance as it is from a liberal stance.

    David: party policy, passed by an overwhelming margin at both Federal and Scottish Conferences last Autumn, was to back decriminalisation.

  • Evan Harris 9th Aug '15 - 1:10pm

    The Open letter suggests that the policy covers (a) pimping and (b) profit-making brothel-keeping. I am not sure it does from reading the policy http://www.scribd.com/doc/202126121/Amnesty-Prostitution-Policy-document#scribd that it does

    What is Sarah’s view on whether (a) pimping (ie control and/or share of proceeds) and (b) profit-making brothel-keeping (as opposed to a salaried receptionist or manager) should be decriminalised?

  • I personally would not want decriminalisation of sex work to include decriminalising pimping.

    On the other hand, I would reform the legislation around brothel-keeping, though, given that the primary use of the existing law is to crack down on sex workers working together for reasons of safety rather than cracking down on pimps.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Aug '15 - 2:58pm

    @ Evan Harris,
    My understanding of the policy on the basis of my reading of it, is that it would also de-criminalise pimps, brothel keepers and any of the assorted mafia etc’. who make the real profits. Perhaps someone has offered a clarification on this point.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    @ Sarah Noble,
    In what way does de-criminalising prostitution make the work safer?

    By the way, I remember a time post AIDS when men were offering women a higher rate if they would agree to unprotected sex. This some of them agreed to against their better judgment. I dare say this still happens when a person is desperate for the money.

  • Of course, pimps and “the assorted mafia who make the real profits” only really exist because it is currently a criminal trade. The apple trade isnt associated with pimps and the mafia, and neither is the magazine trade.

  • Jayne: because in a quasi-criminal system, sex workers, especially those on the street, have to cut corners because of feat either on the part of the worker or the client of police action. That makes sex workers less able to do background checks on prospective clients, or negotiate safer sex.

    Criminalising clients is criminalising the workers by the back door. As I’ve mentioned in the article, police in Norway routinely leverage landlords to evict workers, and bodyguards will not offer their protection services to workers for fear of police action.

    I know one woman who works in Scotland who does not take calls from withheld numbers. She has said publicly that criminalising the purchase of sex would deter clients from calling her because the police would be able to raid her flat and take her phone as she’d be seen as an accessory to the crime.

    The current legal structure around sex work makes the work incredibly unsafe. Take for example, the laws around brothel keeping. Those are used more against independent workers working from the same flat (and people they employ for security or housework). Solicitation laws too; they’re only ever used against street workers, who are on average the most deprived workers in the industry.

    Those who would wish to criminalise the purchase of sex say that they would “decriminalise the worker”, but it’s never a unconditional offer; Labour withdrew an amendment to the Modern Slavery Act repealing of solicitation laws when it was clear that the amendment criminalising the purchase of sex would not be accepted.

    I don’t think strong regulation is the answer. The French have had a system for centuries where all workers must be registered to a legal and regulated brothel, but that only works as a way to criminalise the most disadvantaged workers (and was the system in which Fantine in Les Mis was arrested and sentenced to prison). I think a system of soft touch regulation, coupled with better coverage of contraceptive protection, as well as treating them as any other self-employed worker, would work much better.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Aug '15 - 10:44pm

    @ Sarah,
    I believe that the Swedish model of prostitution is the only one that does not view the victims of male coercion and exploitation from a male perspective. It has been successful in leading to change in social attitudes even amongst the police. I would argue that whatever its shortcomings, it is more successful in protecting prostitutes than legalised systems.

    The law, by decriminalises the coerced and exploited and criminalising the exploiter acknowledges that there will never be gender equality while men buy, sell and exploit women through prostitution.This feminist
    approach means that funds are also made available to help women who wish to get out of prostitution. (If prostitution is legal and a deemed a true ‘choice’, where is the imperative to make available the means to help women who want to get get out of the trade. ( See work by groups such as ‘SPACE INTERNATIONAL ‘etc.

    Where prostitution is legalised there is still exploitation of prostitutes by pimps etc. Also, sex trafficking and prostitution cannot be separated, they are intimately linked. Look at the evidence of what has happened in the Netherlands and Germany and compare that to what has happened in Sweden. It is not difficult to find evidence that undermines MBoy’s argument.

  • David Wallace, you are of course entitled to your opinion. If I were to say I think it is misinformed though I’d be making something of an understatement. The Tories as the party of social liberalism, seriously? Have you met them? One of the other problematic side effects of the coalition was that our presence in it means the Tories now look a good deal cuddlier than they otherwise would on social issues.

    Anyway, you’re panning this party based on what it was circa 2007. It is no longer that party. It has in many ways been destroyed over the past few years, and will now require being rebuilt. The vast majority of these much derided parliamentarians of ours you like to rail at are now gone. New people will step up or not, depending on the leadership of Tim Farron and the decisions he and Conference make regarding this party’s future and position. Judge what exists now, not this caricature you’ve been drawing.

    It is useful to have a reminder of what happens to us when we lose grip on the liberal issues and allow populism to dilute our mission of providing liberal solutions to the problems society faces. But still, come on, credit where its due. You can say that the law on sex and social issues hasn’t changed, but to take an example, which party was it that pushed for equal marriage in the last parliament? I’ll give you a clue, Lynne Featherstone wasn’t standing with a blue rosette pinned to her.

  • I believe the priority for the Liberal Democrats should be to promote freedom and equality and that finding effective strategies to tackle the sexual exploitation inherent in prostitution is what we should be advocating. I believe the Nordic model of criminalising the purchaser but supporting the sex worker is the way forward.

    Arguably, use of prostitutes is rape. We might try to pretend that coercing someone into sex by offering money is more dignified or respectable than coercing through violence, but it is still coercion. Coerced sex is not consenting sex, and is therefore rape. Legalising a form of coercion is not consistent with laws against rape, which are already difficult enough to prosecute.

    Arguing that the only issues inherent in prostitution are related to safety and security accepts the basic premise that it’s OK to purchase someone’s consent to sex. I think that we should oppose this thinking – it’s a fundamental undermining of human rights. There is also an uncomfortable undertone of assuming that we can set up a system of ‘safe’ prostituted women to be ‘used’ by men who feel the need to use them and that the rest of us can live our righteous respectable lives and ignore them. This is not how we should treat our fellow human beings.

    Our priority should be to uphold the rights of people everywhere to say no to sex that they do not freely consent to. Freely means without inducement or coercion of any kind. The Nordic model recognises that the people paying for sex are the ones committing a crime and not the ones offering it and I believe that that is the most humane and liberal way forward.

  • David: You obviously weren’t at either Federal or Scottish Conference in Autumn. The party voted for decriminalisation overwhelmingly. I accept that our MSPs, with all but four others, voted to criminalise kerb crawling, and I do find myself agreeing with Iain Smith’s speech. However, I should emphasise that decriminalising prostitution does not mean decriminalising public nuisance.

    Jayne, Sarah: Sorry, but the Nordic model doesn’t protect women at all. Everyone in Sweden, including the government, agrees that the primary purpose of the law is not to protect women, but deter them from not starving to death. I don’t particularly think that the Swedish and Norwegian polices’ actions of getting sex workers evicted and unable to hire security is protecting women at all.

    Citing Space International is weird too, given that one of their co-founders is a woman with the same name and a physical resemblance to a convicted pimp, and given logistical support by a charity with, at the very least, strong links to two orders of nuns that owe the Irish government millions for their roles in the Magdalene asylum abuse scandal.

  • Simon Thorley 10th Aug '15 - 7:21pm

    @Sarah Olney: “Arguably, use of prostitutes is rape. We might try to pretend that coercing someone into sex by offering money is more dignified or respectable than coercing through violence, but it is still coercion.” – by this definition, anybody exchanging a service for money is coerced, and therefore a slave.

    I understand why it’s attractive to consider the trade in sexual services to be somehow different from all other services, but it only makes sense if you’re confusing cause and effect. All of the undesirable elements of the sex trade – trafficking, coercion, exploitation etc – are CAUSED by the stigma attached to buying and selling sex (and the consequent illegal / legal grey area of the trade). Our objective should be to make sex work as normal a career choice as any other – normal for both buyers and sellers of sex services – through stringent legal protection, professional standards, unionisation and so on.

    You may have a moral objection to the buying and selling of sex – and that’s entirely your prerogative – but it is illiberal to force others to conform to YOUR ideas of what is right and wrong when it concerns other adults engaging in a consensual trade of services. THAT is not how we should treat our fellow human beings.

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Aug '15 - 8:06pm

    @ Sarah,
    Do you not allow for the fact that the Swedish model can be modified so that those who are concerned about being seen as people who live off ‘immoral earnings ‘ would have to have been shown to have profited from the trade rather than having provided a roof or protection?

    It doesn’t concern me in the least that one of the co-founders of SPACE INTERNATIONAL may have been or not been a pimp before escaping the life that she previously led. As for links to a religious order, I have seen the appalling damage done by some who claim their authority from God, but I have also seen some excellent work done too. I doubt that members of the order would be able to get away with the sort of vile behaviour exhibited in the past, they more than any other are under scrutiny. How do you feel when an academic justifies the legalisation on prostitution because men need sex more than women?

    The word that seems to be missing from this discussion is ‘dignity’. I remain happy with the 1949 Convention on Prostitution and Trafficking where it is viewed as incompatible with human dignity and worth of the human person and endangers the welfare of the individual, the family and the community.

    To suggest that prostitution is a job like any other seems to me to be nonsensical. Men ( and it is usually men) use the two great powers, money and sex to abuse a woman. Money means that the man can get a woman to perform sexual acts for him, the emotions, the comfort, the effect of this abuse are of no interest whatsoever.

    As far as I am concerned most prostitution is ‘survival sex’. Women would not consent to sex with the men that they have to have sex with if money was not involved. In poorer countries sex may be exchanged for food, here for money.

    To suggest that legalising prostitution will make women safe also seems nonsensical. Women can never feel safe when they are in the company of such abusive men. Legalising prostitution was unlikely to have saved the lives of the poor drug addicted women killed by the Suffolk stranger, a man known to them and trusted. But who cares? Apparently so one argument goes, they keep respectable women like my own children and their friends safe. That is not exactly true though is it? Women will never be free from abuse whilst we continue to make excuses for our abuse. Prostitution affects families and communities too. There are, as Sarah Olney states, wider implications.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '15 - 8:36pm

    Sarah Olney’s view that prostitution and therefore porn too is arguably rape is dangerous. It would criminalise a lot of men and plenty of women too and ignores the fact that the coercion often works both ways.

  • David: Cannabis is a bad example. Look at the work Lord Paddick (who, as a senior figure in the Met, deprioritised cannabis possession) has been doing in the Lords in the past few months over the Tory bill to ban flowers and comedians.

    Jayne: I can understand if they were repentant, but they’re not. The two religious orders behind Ruhama and Space International still owe the Irish government millions for their role in the Magdalene laundry abuse scandal. And the heads of the religious orders, who hold board seats on Ruhama, refuse to meet with Magdalene survivors.

    I’m concerned about survival sex work too. I don’t want people to be coerced into it. But criminalising it isn’t going to help women in survival sex work; it’s going to starve them. That’s why the policy we passed last Autumn also called for strong social safety nets to ensure people are not coerced into entering into, or staying in, sex work.

    And yes, decriminalising, and more importantly, destigmatising, will make sex workers safer. When sex work is criminalised at all, it’s more often the workers than the clients that end up being the target of police action.

  • Simon Thorley 10th Aug '15 - 9:04pm

    @Jayne: I would not consent to sell a service if I wasn’t paid for it – who wouldn’t. Money means that a man (or woman) can get a sex worker to provide a service – yes, absolutely; this is commerce. The fact that YOU find this distasteful is neither here nor there. Remove the stigma and bring the trade into the open.

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Aug '15 - 9:35pm

    @ David Wallace,
    When the coalition was first formed, we were invited to sign petitions and if a number of signatures were given, the subject would be debated ,I can’t remember the exact details, but I signed one petition hoping that there would be a discussion and decriminalisation of cannabis. I don’t smoke so I have never tried it but I did once ask for a portion of Space cake in a smoking cafe in Amsterdam. They said they didn’t have any and the curiosity passed.

    I am socially liberal when it comes to sex too. I believe that women and men should be free to express their sexuality , but I don’t think it is socially liberal to support sexually abusive relationships, quite the reverse, it is socially damaging. If one wants a mutually satisfying consensual sexual relationship, it is not difficult in this day and age to negotiate one. When men buy sex from a prostitute , this is not on offer to the woman, the men are buying sexual control and that, as far as I am concerned, is abuse.

  • Eddie Sammon. I didn’t say anything about porn so I don’t know how you’ve made that leap. And how does coercion work both ways? It’s the result of a power imbalance so two people are unlikely to be in a mutually coercive relationship.

    Fundamentally I don’t believe that sex is a service that can be bought and sold like any other. The trade in services usually comes about by people using their time and skills to create or change something external to themselves. Sex is essentially the sale of one’s own body.

    I don’t agree that the undesirable elements of prostitution arise from the stigma surrounding it. I think they arise from the abusive and dehumanising nature of the exchange. I think making it a career choice like any other is effectively saying that there really isn’t anything that a rich man cannot buy. Which is the opposite of everything I agree with.

    To be clear – I support the decriminalisation of offering sexual services and of doing everything to support those who find themselves in this position.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Aug '15 - 12:25am

    @ Simon Thorley,
    Simon, if your daughter told you that she intended to pursue a career as a prostitute , you would say fine darling, I’ll always support you 100% in whatever you wish to do.

    In my opinion, you are sanitising the nature of the commerce that is taking place , and will take place if the buyers of sex and the exploiters are legalised. You appear to pay no heed to the trafficking that takes place from Asia and Eastern Europe and the money that it makes for the mafia in places like the former communist countries.

    I do not think that it is stigmatisation that causes the problems of violence, cruel and brutal treatment that is meted out to women who sell sex. It is the nature of the relationship. It is,I would argue, because they are seen as less than human by the men who ‘buy’ them’ . If these women are viewed as degraded, (stigmatised), who degraded them as human beings ?

    You may argue that women enter prostitution out of a freely made choice, some may, but have you noticed the social and racialised nature of prostitution? The women that are deemed to be exercising free choice by entering into a commercial relationship that is inherently dangerous, are in the main, women from a social background where they feel that they have the least number of choices open to them. In other words, not my daughters.

  • Simon Thorley 11th Aug '15 - 8:00am

    @Jayne: I would not want my son to be a sex worker – it is dangerous and insecure work. Because it is not protected by the law in the manner of other professions. However, if he has a particular skill that is in demand, and the marginal utility (for him) in trading that skill is high, I believe that any moral objections are irrelevant.

    I don’t disregard the blights of trafficking, abuse and coercion that exist in the sex industry. However, abuses exist in all industries where demand exists but supply is illegal… With the sex trade, the legal position is indeed only one part of the puzzle, as stigma that trading sex is inherently ‘improper’ (such as you maintain) drives the industry underground and into the hands of criminals.

    Clients of sex workers do not ‘buy’ them, any more than you buy a waiter in a restaurant. Clients buy a service. I personally find it distasteful, as do you. But sex for some people is emotional; for others stress release or pure pleasure. For others it is a valuable, tradable skill.

  • However, if he has a particular skill that is in demand, and the marginal utility (for him) in trading that skill is high, I believe that any moral objections are irrelevant.

    That’s good, I hear talented contract killers command very high prices.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Aug '15 - 11:18am

    @ Simon Thorley,
    Where is Amnesty Internationals robust evidence that legalising prostitution will reduce abuse and those aspects of the sex trade that it believes should remain illegal? Most of what they are offering seems to be little more than anecdote and wishful thinking.

    And please don’t imply that I am some latter day Mary Whitehouse. The rationale for legalisation of prostitution seems to be that it will lead to harm reduction. Just give me the evidence. There are numerous places where legalisation has taken place Germany, the Netherlands, the state of Victoria in Australia etc.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Aug '15 - 2:05pm

    Sarah, thanks but I don’t agree. Sorry to bring porn into it, but if your argument is that sex for money is coercion then I fail to see a difference.

    I want a big crackdown on porn, I think a lot of it does not look consensual. The same with prostitution, I am not in favour of outright criminalisation of the users and think criminalising the users but not the sellers is worse than criminalising both. It reminds me if criminalising drug buyers but not the sellers.

    Finally, to be clear: I have no sympathy with the recent free market think tank report that said sex work should be legal because men need it. The only thing that matters to me is whether women want to sell it and most sex workers appear to not want to criminalise their clients.

    Regards

  • Jayne: The New Zealand government did a post-legislative review of their Prostitution Reform Act 2003, which is linked in this comment piece.

    On the opposite side, Sweden’s Kvinnofrid law has been frought with difficulties from the offset; the paper “The Swedish Law to Criminalise Clients: A failed experiment in social engineering” basically reviews the Swedish government’s review of the law very unfavourably, as opposed to the English translation of the executive summary.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Aug '15 - 5:48pm

    @ Sarah,
    Thank you.

    My initial view is that the writing is very small and it will take me some time to read it with my eyesight problem, but also, the research (2008) is quite dated…. but here goes.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Aug '15 - 8:57pm

    @Sarah,
    I am sorry but I have read nothing that leads me to change my mind that legalisation will be any other than a boost for pimps ( or loverboys), and traffickers.

    The numbers in the report cannot be relied upon, as is admitted. It was carried out when there was full employment.

    I assume that you were referring to ‘4.5 General safety of sex workers when you refuted the figure given by the member of Equality Now. From what I have read, I agree with her.

    If you look at the 70% figure, it merely states after the PRA had encouraged the reporting of incidents to the police and that the police response might help them, 70% of those who felt able to comment ‘felt’ that sex workers were more likely to report violence to the police, particularly street workers.

    However if you look at the data of adverse incidents including violence, of what actually happened in the last year of the study, this does not appear to have been borne out, few participants had reported adverse incidents to the police, and instead had reported them to friends and co workers as they had done before legalisation. The majority thought that there was little that the PRA could do about the violence that takes place. Even when a report was made to the police there was reluctance to proceed to court.

    I may have misread the relevant chapter but for various reasons I don’t particularly think it is worth the effort to re-read it and study it in more detail. I remain committed to the idea that the sellers of sex should not be criminalised but that pimps and traffickers should be. Prostitutes have human rights like everyone else, including the right to protection and health care , we should be fighting for these not encouraging exploitation.

    Amnesty International must also have have taken leave of its senses if it thinks that those things that it argues would remain illegal, child prostitution, trafficking , violence, coercion, are somehow separable in a system of legalised prostitution, they are intrinsic to it.

    Given the billions that are made in prostitution, who do you think will be most pleased if the Amnesty proposals are accepted? There are powerful vested interests in the ‘Sex Industry’ too.

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