Questions for Amnesty: Why legalize buying of sex?


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Why would a human rights organization such as Amnesty International propose to legalize the buying of sex? An opinion piece on CNN's website by Robin Morgan shares research into the situation of sex workers and how criminalization of johns and pimps has been chosen by several Nordic countries and France. It has also been recommended by the European parliament, and is pending in the parliaments of Ireland, Belgium, Canada and Scotland. The presentation was given at a winter session of the Nordic Summer University on 15 March 2014 at Lysebu in Oslo, Norway.

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  • (slide 18)
    France has rejected the Nordic model.
    Scotland has also rejected the Nordic model (more than once).
    There is currently no proposal in Belgium for the Nordic model.

    (slide 19)
    Street prostitution has declined in several countries over the past decade and a half. This is because most people now have the internet so now arrangements can be made online instead of in the street.

    ScienceDirect uses Melissa Farley as a source. She has been discredited and kicked out of the APA following a complaint about her 'research'.

    (slide 23)
    Douglas Fox has also denied any involvment.

    (slide 30)
    You have misinterpreted the WHO. They advocate decriminalisation. They do *not* advocate the Nordic model.

    (slide 32)
    This is juvenile. Replacing part of a logo with a penis is something a child or immature teenager would do.
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Questions for Amnesty: Why legalize buying of sex?

  1. 1. Why legalize buying of sex? #QuestionsforAmnesty Gry Tina Tinde, Nordic Summer University Winter session, Oslo, 15 March 2014
  2. 2. Twitter feminism debate
  3. 3. #questionsforamnesty
  4. 4. Debating virtually
  5. 5. #questionsforamnesty
  6. 6. #questionsforamnesty O What if the world's most distinguished human rights organization decided to condone pimping? Unthinkable, right? But that's what happened when Amnesty International put forth a document calling for the legalization of prostitution.
  7. 7. h O Robin Morgan, activist and author of 22 books, hosts the radio show/podcast ”Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” and iTunes
  8. 8. #questionsforamnesty O STORY HIGHLIGHTS: O Amnesty International put forth a document calling for the legalization of prostitution O Robin Morgan: Prostitution is selling and buying human beings, which amounts to slavery O Morgan: Prostituted women have high rates of PTSD, many are child abuse survivors
  9. 9. #questionsforamnesty O The numbers of prostituted women who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder are in the same range as combat veterans and refugees from state sponsored torture. O As the survivors succinctly depict it: $ Does Not = Consent. O Robin Morgan says we should criminalize buyers. Amnesty should reject decriminalization From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  10. 10. #questionsforamnesty In her 8 March 2024 article, Robin Morgan says: O For 50 years, the global women's movement has been fighting the selling and buying of human beings, which has a name: slavery. O For decades, feminists called for criminalizing the buyers while decriminalizing the women they buy; offering women support services ranging from safe harbor through drug rehabilitation to education and skills training; and enforcing laws that criminalize pimps, traffickers and brothel owners. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  11. 11. #questionsforamnesty O The response was that it would never work (and feminists were crazy, sex-hating Puritans). O The sex industry fought back, both openly -- It's the "oldest profession, always been with us” O It represents "sexual liberation" -- and covertly, through funding happy-hooker-type groups, rebranding prostitution as "sex work From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  12. 12. #questionsforamnesty O The sex industry praises it as a career choice indistinguishable from any other. O Have you ever met an 8-year-old who said, "Ooh, I wanna grow up to be a hooker"? O There is, as Kathleen Barry pointed out in her classic, "The Prostitution of Sexuality," a single interrelated mega-enterprise of sexual exploitation. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  13. 13. #questionsforamnesty O Prostituted women are also disproportionately survivors of child sexual and physical abuse, rape and battery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. O Vednita Carter, a survivor activist, has noted that every prostituted woman has been forced, whether or not she seems to "choose willingly." From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  14. 14. #questionsforamnesty O Racism, violence and poverty are ever present forms of coercion in the sex industry; consequently, poor women and women of color have a disproportionately large presence. O We're only now discovering the enormous impact of prostitution on women in native communities. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  15. 15. #questionsforamnesty O We know the trajectory of, say, a young runaway from an abusive home: First, the offer of work in "films." Then, the "temporary" turning of a trick or two, which becomes a permanent deployment in prostitution. Finally, she finds herself being moved around as a trafficked commodity. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  16. 16. #questionsforamnesty O Despite this reality, the phrase "sex work" became fashionable among some well- meaning people who assumed that this term meant respect for the women involved -- when actually it signifies approval for the context in which such women were trying to stay barely alive, or from which they were trying to escape. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  17. 17. #questionsforamnesty O Nevertheless, progress seemed possible. Sweden, Norway, and Iceland passed legislation holding customers responsible for buying human beings for sex, criminalizing the buyers and offering the women support programs. O This is known as the Nordic Model. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  18. 18. #questionsforamnesty O The French parliament voted in Dec 2013 to follow Sweden's model; similar laws are pending in the parliaments of Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and Canada, and the European Parliament favored it with a strongly affirmative vote on February 24, 2014. O See, the model works. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  19. 19. #questionsforamnesty O Since Sweden began enforcement, street prostitution has been reduced almost by half and trafficking has declined. O This unglues the arguments of those who treat trafficking as a separate issue from "sex work." Is it less enslaving to be bought in your own country rather than another? O Contrarily, countries with legalized prostitution have greater inflows of human trafficking, according to a study published in ScienceDirect. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  20. 20. #questionsforamnesty O Then, just when it seemed sanity was winning, the respected human rights organization Amnesty International appears to have come out on the side of the sex industry. O An Amnesty International document, "Decriminalization of Sex Work," argues that pimps and johns should be "free from government interference" and allowed to "exercise their autonomy." From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  21. 21. #questionsforamnesty O It says governments have an obligation to establish an environment where pimps can operate freely to engage prostituted people; to do otherwise "threatens the rights to health, nondiscrimination, equality, privacy, and security of persons." O The document also insults the disability community by claiming that men with disabilities require access to prostituted women to further their sense of "life enjoyment and dignity." From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  22. 22. #questionsforamnesty O Amnesty International has argued that the document is a draft and is in the discussion stage. O But Amnesty International representatives appeared at the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2014, lobbying to strike down proposed legislation that would criminalize customers for buying prostituted women. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  23. 23. #questionsforamnesty O What's even more stunning is that a former member of Amnesty, is proudly claiming credit for having first raised the issue of legalizing pimps and brothel owners at the organization, which he says resulted in the policy recommendation. O A campaigner for the International Union of Sex Workers who and calls himself a "sex worker", he and his partner run a major escort service. Amnesty, however, denies his involvement in the draft document, saying he had "zero input." Amnesty came to this on its own, then? Hard to know which is worse. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  24. 24. #questionsforamnesty O It took decades for the global women's movement to convince Amnesty that human rights were not reserved for male people. Now, Amnesty International London has set things back by considering a shocking violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  25. 25. #questionsforamnesty O But this time, the "crazy, puritanical feminists" can't be dismissed; we're backed by national governments who've proved our point—and saved women's lives. This time survivors must be heard. From Robin Morgan’s 8 March 2014 CNN article
  26. 26. #questionsforamnesty O The Amnesty paper starts like this: O "Amnesty International is opposed to the criminalization or punishment of activities related to the buying or selling of consensual sex between adults. Amnesty International believes that seeking, buying, selling and soliciting paid sex are acts protected from state interference as long as there is no coercion, threats or violence associated with those acts."
  27. 27. #questionsforamnesty O Why doesn’t Amnesty’s paper separate the sellers of sex from the buyers, like the Nordic Model does by criminalizing only the buyers? O It is by criminalizing the buyers that Sweden, Norway and other countries have been able to reduce prostitution and at the same time support the sex workers via health, legal and employment services.
  28. 28. #questionsforamnesty
  29. 29. #questionsforamnesty SWERF = sex work exclusionary radical feminist
  30. 30. #questionsforamnesty O "The new WHO guidelines recommend that countries work towards decriminalization of sex work and urge countries to improve sex workers’ access health services. They also outline a set of interventions to empower sex workers and emphasize that correct and consistent condom use can reduce transmission between female, male and transgender sex workers and their clients. O What WHO says is that people who are prostituted should not be criminalized. WHO does not propose to decriminalize buyers of sexual services. The Nordic Model is in line with WHO guidelines.
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