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Live webchat with Amnesty International Tuesday 4th Feb, 11-12pm

(617 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Feb-14 11:27:58

Following the leaking of an Amnesty International policy document 'Decriminalisation of Sex Work: Policy Background', which argues that men who buy sex are ‘exercising their autonomy’ and should be allowed to do so ‘free from government interference’ there has been considerable discussion on the site and requests for a webchat.

Today, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK will be here between 11-12pm to answer your questions.

Please do join us live on Tuesday or ask your question on this thread in advance. Just a quick reminder that it’s one question per person; take a look at our webchat guidelines, here.



basgetti Mon 03-Feb-14 22:03:38

How can any activity that requires full and enthusiastic consent from another party ever be an individual's human right?

EiraWen Mon 03-Feb-14 22:36:39

So far you have avoided answering this:

How much time have you spent reading through PunterNet (or The Invisible Men project, or any of the many punter/john communities), where the men who pay to use women's bodies discuss in detail what they want, think and do?

What do you think of their choices?

WhentheRed Mon 03-Feb-14 22:41:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Creeping Mon 03-Feb-14 22:49:43

How can the lives of prostitutes, many of which are prostitutes through a lack of access to a viable alternative income and/or a history of abuse, violence, addiction etc, be improved if buying sex becomes the "right" of the purchaser? Won't their limited "free" choice to be prostitutes become even more limited, their status more inferior, their chances to get out less likely etc, because the "rights" of the punters to have access to sex in "non-traditional" ways is put above and beyond the right of women to have full agency of their body?

I don't understand why the punters have to be decriminalised if the aim is to improve the situation for the prostitutes. Focus on the rights of the prostitutes, not those who, in far too many cases, buy the consent to rape.

scallopsrgreat Mon 03-Feb-14 23:00:35

Can I ask if Amnesty International recognises the gendered nature of prostitution and from that the power dynamics in play?

Follow up question:
If so, why is the language of the policy gender neutral, thereby eradicating women's voices and experiences and eradicating the gender oppressive nature of prostitution?

Also a cheeky 3rd question but still related to the 1st question: If you do recognise the gendered nature of prostitution, how and why do you think that has come about?

anrulawson Mon 03-Feb-14 23:03:09

How does Amnesty define and understand legalization and decriminalization? For instance these terms are often used interchangeably and can be used to apply to the whole industry including the pimps and managers – is this what Amnesty means?
We rather want to see women decriminalised and the demand side undermined - make it a crime to buy sex. Why not?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

doorkeeper Mon 03-Feb-14 23:22:05

Kate, you have an Open Information Policy, where you state your "members, supporters, partners, the other individuals and organisations we work with and on behalf of, and the wider public *have a right to know about what we are doing*". You are also signed up to the INGO Accountability Charter.

With that in mind, will you please state clearly which "sex workers organisations" and other interested bodies, associations and individuals had input - formal or informal - into the draft policy statement?

DawnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Feb-14 23:52:50

Hi all,

Thanks for your input so far. Obviously this is a hugely controversial issue and one that many people want to have their say on.

We are concerned, though, that this webchat could be derailed by new posters with a single-issue agenda.

In the light of this, we've decided to turn off new registrations overnight, as we want regular MNers' voices to be heard.

horsetowater Mon 03-Feb-14 23:55:06

Excellent move.

horsetowater Mon 03-Feb-14 23:58:12

Basgetti's question! It's paradoxical to call something a human right that involves consent from another person.

BrandNewIggi Tue 04-Feb-14 00:07:25

Surely the right to sex is at best a qualified, or limited right? And should be dependent on finding a willing, non-coerced partner? Does AI not agree with this?
There is no way to guarantee lack of coercion within a financial transaction for sex.
I think this could lead to the biggest own-goal Amnesty has ever scored. sad

BelleOfTheBorstal Tue 04-Feb-14 00:12:45

Very pleased to hear that people won't be able to register in an attempt to derail this discussion!

FloraFox Tue 04-Feb-14 00:14:06

Thank you DawnMumsnet

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Tue 04-Feb-14 00:45:00

Just marking my spot, not got a question but I'm very interested in the responses to the excellent questions listed so far.

CaptChaos Tue 04-Feb-14 04:46:42

Hi Kate,

I wonder if you can explain why AIUK has decided that, rather than act as a Human Rights organisation in the matter of prostitution and prostitutes women, they have decided to only act as a Men's Rights oganisation? Wouldn't it be better to spend your precious resources on dealing with the reasons women become prostitutes, like poverty, abuse, addiction, mental health issues, learning disabilities, DV or other VAWG issues?

Why are you not listening to exited women's voices? They are no longer having to waste emotional energy on the huge cognitive dissonance needed to hang on to the 'happy hooker' trope and can tell you how things really are. I'm another who will be trying to rearrange my day to take part in this, and another who is bitterly disappointed that AIUK sees women and girls as disposable creatures.

sonjdol Tue 04-Feb-14 08:50:39

What if it was my daughter? Well, I would hope she would have rights as any other worker. I would not want her to be arrested as "pimp" or "brothel owner" for working together with a friend to create protection.

I would want her to be treated respectufully by the police, if she experienced violence, not sent home as "slut", because apparently it "is her job to get raped", because sex work is not rape - rape is rape. LetÄs keep that straight.

I would want her to to have access to regular healt insurance and social security, to pay taxes and have access to all service other workers have access to.

I would want her to be able to change job, if she wants to, without fear of stigma and reprisals because of the work she has done.

I would want her not to be attacked by feminists, who claim she is either a victim or a traitor. In fact, she is a human being.

I would want my daughter to be respected as a human being, whether she does sex work or whether she is a high end investment banker trading in non-existend goods (even if I find the latter much more morally despicable).

happyon Tue 04-Feb-14 09:11:50


May I point out that none of us who oppose this AI idea want to attack prostituted women. We want the punters and pimps punished and dissuaded, rather than making conditions easier for them to access women.

If AI really cares about women's human rights, why have they decided that the rights of men to access women are paramount?

JacqueslePeacock Tue 04-Feb-14 09:17:43

Yes, it's not as if this is phrased in terms of the woman's right to sell her body, is it it? It's all about the man's person's "right" to buy sex.

siiiiiiiiigh Tue 04-Feb-14 09:40:05

And, I'd like to know whether the wording of the policy implies that one person's right to have sex over rules another person's right to not have sex?

Because, that's scary.

Interesting post sonjdol - I especially like "In fact she is a human being"

I needed a new diary for 2014 and ordered one the other day in the AI sale. It arrived this morning - it reminded me of the origins of Amnesty ....

"In November 1960 Peter Benenson, a 40 year old lawyer, told friends he had read in a newspaper story while travelling on the tube about two Portuguese students in Lisbon who drank a toast "to liberty". This was a dangerous thing to do during the authoritarian dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar; the students were sentenced to seven years in prison. Peter was outraged when he read this, he said. He felt there must be something he could do."

The diary also tells me that "These achievements (from their subsequent campaigning work) have won international recognition. In 1977 Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to "securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world."

Also that "Amnesty members come from different countries, cultures, faiths and occupations. What unites us is our determination to work for a world in which human rights are a reality for everyone"

So a second question from me (AI members and MNers are both famous for questioning the rules after all!) has to be whether you are concerned that this new policy proposing the decriminalising of sex work may detract from your central focus, and in being so controversial may adversely affect that unity of purpose within Amnesty referred to above ?

My first question incidentally was (quite separately) on whether you see parallels in the arguments for the de-criminalisation of drugs.

AnyaKnowIt Tue 04-Feb-14 10:04:50

So if you believe that I should

AnyaKnowIt Tue 04-Feb-14 10:07:37

So if you believe that I should have the right to sell my body for sex, will you be campaigning for my rights to sell my blood, bone marrow? Maybe even an organ if needed?

After all, its just work isn't it?

JuliaScurr Tue 04-Feb-14 10:13:13

If disabled men have a human right to sexual access to other people's bodies, the rights of those other people must logically be constrained by their obligation to provide such access

How can AI support such a contradictory policy?

FairPhyllis Tue 04-Feb-14 10:20:29

Julia I don't think the policy document is framed in terms of disability. It casts being able to buy sex without criminalisation as a right of all men, disabled or otherwise. sad

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