TAT responds to new Amnesty International policy on prostitution

TAT responds to new Amnesty International policy on prostitution
by Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director

On August 11 of this year, Amnesty International voted to adopt a policy that urges nations to decriminalize the sex industry…essentially supporting the legalization of prostitution. Harm reduction is the greatest rationale they use to justify their policy. The thinking is that if all aspects of prostitution were decriminalized, there would be more monitoring; stigma would be removed; healthcare provided; protections built in; and life would be good and fair to those prostituted. But that thinking and policy have not proven true in the countries that have adopted this policy.

Harm reduction is like providing a glass of milk to settle the stomach from the slow acting poison being drunk. The poison will continue to do its damage … destroying the person from the inside out … even though some of the symptoms will be mitigated in the short term. That is not good enough. In the end, you still have a poisoned, ailing -- if not already dead -- human being.

You cannot reduce the harm in something that is inherently harmful. Prostitution is inherently harmful to the prostituted person. Violence is inherent in the system. This, Amnesty International, is not disputing. They just think they can lessen it by legalizing it. This is where they are wrong.

Truckers Against Trafficking stands firmly against Amnesty International’s proposed policy. We, along with over 600 survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking, the majority of the world’s anti-trafficking organizations and some activist celebrities signed an open letter to Amnesty International drafted by the Coalition Against Women In Trafficking (CATW International) stating our firm objections. You can read the full letter and view the signees here: http://catwinternational.org/Content/Images/Article/621/attachment.pdf

Further, The Washington Post states some of our core objections, “Decriminalizing prostitution entirely might give some of these women (in prostitution) a way out. More often, it would allow pimps to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable — the young, the very poor and especially the undocumented. The evidence seems to bear that out in Germany and the Netherlands, where trafficking has increased dramatically since the decriminalization of the sex industry in the early 2000s.”

Decriminalizing the prostituted person and offering him/her help is a good policy, but decriminalizing the buyers, pimps and brothel owners simply makes no sense. They are the players who allow sex trafficking to flourish, and giving them free reign will only subject more vulnerable people groups to exploitation and slavery.