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

(617 Posts)

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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.



OP’s posts: |
SuperLoudPoppingAction Mon 03-Feb-14 13:07:29

I'd like to know how aware Amnesty is of the links between escort agency owner Douglas Fox, the International Union of Sex Workers, the English Collective of Prostitutes and the work done by Julie Bindel and Cath Elliot among others to expose the way these individuals and organisations seem to promote the interests of pimps and punters at the expense of women in prostitution and of organisations working to support these women within prostitution and when exiting.
It fascinates me that these organisations have so few members (see Laura Lee's testimony to the NI trafficking bill consultation) and yet their views hold so much sway with such a prestigious organisation with a track record of promoting women's rights.
Are you aware most of these organisations are fronts for the same few vocal people who profit from the sex industry?

girlylala0807 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:19:01

Do you have a daughter? What would your advice to her be if she told you she wanted to be a prostitute?

migsy86 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:42:43

I am so happy amnesty is talking about this issue. I am a CURRENT sex worker, i'm also a mother and I fully support decrim. My question to amnesty is will you talk to any current sex workers in relation to your proposal?

OmNom Mon 03-Feb-14 13:43:05

I found the wording of this (footnote 2 in your policy doc) absolutely breathtaking:

'As noted within Amnesty International’s policy on sex work, the organization is opposed to criminalization of all activities related to the purchase and sale of sex. Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalize those who are unable or unwilling to fulfill that need through more traditionally recognized means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health.'

This reads as though Amnesty is utterly committed to prostitution, and has been for some time.

Is that something you're prepared to stand by, today? Could we have a clear statement from you on this?

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 03-Feb-14 13:54:10

I was interested to see your stand on this as I have huge respect for Amnesty (and am a member). I feel it may be something like the argument for the de-criminalisation of drugs - we don't necessarily advocate drug taking or prostitution, but we feel more harm is being done through making these activities illegal. And there are issues of liberty around each of them too.
I wonder if you'd like to comment on this thought?

mogara Mon 03-Feb-14 13:54:36

Does Amnesty believe that a woman who is trafficked and raped repeated daily, but feels unable to seek assistance from police or others, suffers a human rights abuse, and who precisely is abusing her, only her trafficker, or the punters who rape her?

BelleOfTheBorstal Mon 03-Feb-14 14:18:30

Can Amnesty International, as an organisation, really fail to see that by saying sex is a right that should be able to be purchased, they are one step away from saying that consent does not need to be obtained in ALL sexual situations?

I was also of the understanding that Amnesty International was against slavery. Is not the purchasing of another human's body, albeit it on a temporary basis, a form of slavery?

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Mon 03-Feb-14 14:25:53

How do you sleep at night?

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 03-Feb-14 14:26:22

Yes, good point Belle - the area of consent is a huge issue here.

PlentyOfPubeGardens Mon 03-Feb-14 14:42:42

If the right to buy sex is some sort of male human right, what happens if there are not enough 'willing' prostitutes to go round? Who will be prostituted to ensure this human right is met for all men people?

Laurank Mon 03-Feb-14 14:53:27

In other areas Amnesty acknowledges the effects of female inequality, poverty, desparate lack of opportunity on the ability to make genuine vocational choices. Other AI campaigns acknowledge global male violence and exploitation in women's labour. None of which has any effect on prostitution which, according to AI, is all about choice and freedom and autonomy and the necessity of men to buy what they want when they want.

Two questions:
1. How does AI justify the jettisoning of all notions of human rights, economic analysis or engagement with women's lives to produce documents like this?
2. As women leave the organisation, is AI comfortable with its work with industry lobbyists like the ECP and Douglas Fox of the IUSW?

sonjdol Mon 03-Feb-14 15:16:02

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

RubyFruit Mon 03-Feb-14 15:28:34

Hi Kate, I'm very confused please can you clarify the consultation process. A "consultation" is normally, morally and ethically, a situation where the organisation concerned openly listens.

By contrast, the document which has been leaked takes a very clear position. The document is alarming on so many levels (see other questions here) and does not encourage us to believe AUK is open to understanding the levels of abuse and exploitation involved in prostitution. Consequently, AI has been criticised for apparently supporting a pro-sex industry position. There is a growing concern that this is a biased consultation in favour of the multimillion sex industry and nothing, so far, AI has said publically has changed that opinion.

How will you ensure that this consultation is open and fair and that prostituted women, survivors and other women (even if they are not AI members) have a voice? I was encouraged to ask for the consultation documents by the twitter AmnestyUK account but the documents have not arrived. Contradictorily, I read in your official statement that you will only send consultation documents to signed up members. Women who have the most to say are the least likely to have the money to pay for a membership (even at concessionary rates) and so AI will lose their crucial input as a result. Those who profit from the multi-billion dollar sex industry will have no problem buying memberships and skewing the consultation. How will you avoid this happening?

msrisotto Mon 03-Feb-14 15:28:42

Why do you think buying sex is a human right? No one has died from a lack of it.

And why are you consulting with organisations that specialise in pimping?

DoctorTwo Mon 03-Feb-14 15:49:50

Hi Kate, thanks for coming on. OmNom posted this 'As noted within Amnesty International’s policy on sex work, the organization is opposed to criminalization of all activities related to the purchase and sale of sex.'

Will this include women who have been trafficked and their traffickers? If so, that condones these crimes, does it not?

BellaRobinson Mon 03-Feb-14 15:57:48

My name is Bella and I am a activist with the Rhode Island chapter of Coyote, and I have been a sex worker for over 30 years.

My 1st question is "Does criminalization stop people from buying or selling sex? NO its doesn't, as it is a failed system and law enforcement can't seem to police even 1% of the sex industry, however what criminalization does do is create the perfect playground for bad cops and predators to rob, rape, threaten, beat, exploit and murder sex workers.
Recent research show as a American women I am twice as likely to be raped by a cop, than a random civilian, even convicted felons, yet this is who we have put in charge of stalking sex workers. Law enforcement is allowed to have sex with women and teenagers and then arrest them for prostitution.

My 2st question is "Is Amnesty International aware, that the anti trafficking narrative, admits they know criminalization harms sex workers and victims?

"When I asked about the negative effects the law might have on sex workers, I was told they didn’t really matter, or were even a good thing. ‘I think of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve with the law,’ Martin said. ‘It shouldn't be as easy as it was before to go out and sell sex."

My 3rd question is "Has Amnesty International reviewed the following research where the data is taken right off US government websites and is much different than what is published regulatory in the media.

My 4th question is has Amnesty International viewed the 2013 award winning film "American Courtesans" which was made to give voice to 11 USA sex workers.

My 5th question is is Amnesty International aware that in the US in the state of Rhode Island indoor sex work between consenting adults was decriminalized from 1979 until November 2009, and it was a successful model and NO trafficking victims were found during these 30 years. in 2008 the Craigslist killer was caught because after he killed the lady in Boston he went to Rhode Island and robbed a sex worker and she dialed 911 and the killer was caught within hours.

My 6th question is "Is Amnesty International aware that the trafficking narrative publishes misguided information and is directly promoting violence towards sex workers and victims, and they refuse to listen to the voices of millions of sex workers worldwide. Why is it that the trafficking narrative is not looking for ways to reduce harm to sex workers and victims of trafficking?

My 7th and final question is, does Amnesty International understand that sex workers could be the best tool in actually finding those who are victims, as nobody wants to stop trafficking more than the sex workers themselves.

Enclosing sex workers around the world DEMAND to be decriminalized, and we want our right to agency and our labor rights. We also want to see discrimination and hate crime legislation put in place.

Bella's final thoughts:
Its time to change the social perception that she wasn't a person, she was a "prostitute". No one wants to feel a sense of community or sameness with her. She was something other than us and therefore we don’t need to feel fear or grief at the fact or the manner of her death."

GospelOak Mon 03-Feb-14 16:22:16

1. So you support the decriminalisation of commercial sex with children? While you say that your organization "considers children involved in commercial sex acts to be victims of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies," you don't say anwhere that they are entitled to justice, or to see those who commit crimes against them prosecuted or punished in any way? That doesn't seem to me to be consistent with human rights?
2. I presume this has come about because there is some funder driving the agenda? Is this work funded from Amnesty's general budget (certainly not something I have ever been told about when your fundraisers come to my door). Or is there a particular funder behind it pushing particular policy conclusions?

It's hard to tell what the aim is really, as the policy is muddled, condescending and western-focused -- and really outside of where Amnesty can have most impact and concentrate its limited resources. Why equate sex workers with miners, for a start? Am I missing something or are young boys and girls around the world being trafficked into a life of mining? You just look out of touch with such silly comparisons.
The buying and selling of sex doesn't exist in some kind of social vaccum, but in a context of brutality and discrimination. Making it easier for the punters isn't going to resolve that, it will likely just increase demand. And the context in different countries is wildly different. Why doesn't Amnesty ever think these things through?

DirkJohanson Mon 03-Feb-14 16:27:28

In my personal experience, where prostitution is legal, there is a surplus of sex workers relative to clients. For instance, and as only one example, in Medellin, Colombia, individual women are only allowed into one club in particular twice a week, because so many more women want to meet men for transactional sex than the other way around.

Has Amnesty found anything different with respect to this large surplus of supply relative to demand?

sonjdol Mon 03-Feb-14 16:34:43

As far as I understood, Amnesty does not want to decriminalize commercial sex with children, but only among consenting adults. Why can't your read?

Amnesty: Do you want to decriminalize children exploited in prostitution? Do you want to decriminalize people paying for sex with children?

VegetariansTasteLikeChicken Mon 03-Feb-14 16:37:57

I realise the happy hooker trope is well worn and may even be true for some women in the western world.. but as the majority of women in the world don't have the same rights and same access to food/health care/ and jobs that we enjoy isn't their being forced to risk Aids/ rape/ and physical violence to feed their children less of a "free choice" and more of a coercion? If am man were to tell me I could die or have sex with would be called rape. I can't see the difference?

And if so then are you actually saying men have a right to buy sex more than women have a right to not be used for sex?

I have a human right and need to feed myself and my children and should I go out and steal food I would hope and expect the country I am in to respect the situation I was in and give me leniency.

If men have a human right to sex will Amnesty international step in and ask for leniency when men are forced to go out and rape if prostitutes become scarce in their area?

FloraFox Mon 03-Feb-14 17:38:07

Why did AUK tell the NIA Committee that the consultation would be carried on this year and there was no timeframe for a decision when the deadline for submissions had already been set for 21 March?

FloraFox Mon 03-Feb-14 17:38:54

Would you like to take this opportunity to repeat AI's thanks to self-confessed punter Dirk Johanson for his financial donation?

BriarRainbowshimmer Mon 03-Feb-14 18:02:19

Do you think it's men's human right to buy and sell women?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Feb-14 18:15:58

What responses to the consultation would make you change your position?

Why is your position contrary to that of WHO?

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