Do you agree with Amnesty International’s proposal that prostitution is a human right?

Amnesty International will meet next week in Dublin to debate a proposal that prostitution is a human right.

The Guardian editorializes against the proposition:

Amnesty is arguing that prostitution is a matter of free choice, a stance heavily promoted by the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry. The group is putting forth the view that sex work is compatible with the principle of gender equality and nondiscrimination, as if it were a job like any other.

“By definition,” Amnesty’s proposal states, “sex work means that sex workers who are engaging in commercial sex have consented to do so.” This definition fails to take into account the dire economic need, the childhood sexual abuse, the brutal coercion employed by pimps, and the vast power differences of sex and race that drive the commercial sex industry.

Amnesty contends that “such conditions do not inevitably render individuals incapable of exercising personal agency”. This argument ignores the reality for the vast majority of individuals exploited by the commercial sex industry. When United Nations personnel trade food for sex, these transactions – called “survival sex” – might technically be consensual, but can hardly be considered examples of free will. Almost all prostitution is some form of survival sex. There is no choice in the absence of the freedom to choose otherwise.

Today’s Question: Do you agree with Amnesty International’s proposal that prostitution is a human right?

  • PaulJ

    There’s lots of vices that could be seen as victimless, and most things in life involve a degree of coercion but when deciding if it is a “right” the broad picture has to be considered (Miley Cyrus).

    • aminahyaquin

      There really is no such thing as a victimless vice. there is a lot of denial about addiction and depravity, and the costs to significant others of an individual’s bent choices. Slavery is slavery and vice criminals profit by exploiting slaves.

    • Jamie H

      “…and most things in life involve a degree of coercion…” What does that mean? What does your whole statement mean? If you consider the “broad picture,” you’ll see that AI’s position is bewildering.

    • Pearly

      Are you quoting Miley Cyrus?

  • hookstrapped

    That is obviously NOT from Amnesty International’s twitter account. Here is a good response to Amnesty’s critics:

    http://www.refinery29.com/2015/07/91515/amnesty-sex-decriminalization-proposal-celebrity-response

    The sex workers I met in the Dominican Republic doing this photo project…

    https://www.lensculture.com/peter-schafer?modal=true&modal_type=project&modal_project_id=84656

    are primarily concerned with safety and good working conditions and being able to make a decent living. That’s why most choose to work in brothels. One of the women who I’ve become friends with recently returned from working in a brothel in Curacao on a 3-month contract and she talks about how this place stands apart from other places she has worked — all clients have to present their passport to be photocopied; there is an alarm button in all rooms to call security; and there is a driver to take and pick up workers from outcalls, which has its supervision purposes but also helps ensure worker safety. This is what full decriminalization can look like. The photocopying of the passport is a pretty key deterrent for abusive behavior, and that is something impossible under john criminalization schemes like the Nordic model. Not to mention removing police, the primary perpetrators of abuse and assault against sex workers, from the picture.

    But brothels are often made illegal when other aspects of prostitution are decriminalized, as in England, with the assumption they are inherently exploitative — even if two sex workers share a flat for security and mutual support that is considered an illegal brothel. And where my friend worked, the driver who provided her security (and, in effect, earns his living off of prostitution) would be considered a pimp in most other countries. So it’s complicated and critical to talk with and listen to sex workers in order to understand how their world works so that efforts to help and protect them don’t actually harm and endanger them.

    • Jamie H

      Just because an effort is made to add a few protections and curb abuse doesn’t mean that sex workers are doing that job truly willingly.

  • Floyd R. Turbo

    Absolutely not! Women should not be allowed to exploit men’s sexual weaknesses for financial gain like that.

    • Jamie H

      Are you serious?!?!? You can’t be.

      • Yanotha Twangai

        I’m guessing whoever chose that screen name is making a “pop culture” reference from the 70s and 80s, probably before your time. Being a middle-aged white guy, I got it.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floyd_R._Turbo

        • Floyd R. Turbo

          Whadaya mean, “pop culture”? It’s not just pop culture. It’s mom AND pop culture. And if you don’t like it, you can kiss my bleacher cushion.

  • Rixware

    Is there any chance that this is some sort of backward way to get at all of those problems in the industry? Maybe Amnesty International is thinking that by bringing prostitution more into the open that conditions for sex workers might ultimately improve. Governments would potentially give less attention to stopping it (acknowledging that it appears unstoppable) and more attention to enforcing the rights, and improving the conditions, of the workers.

    Not saying that I think it would work, but it’s the only way I can think of to MAYBE understanding this proposed action.

    • harrietfordypa
    • aminahyaquin

      The term sex worker is a misnomer. Compulsively disordered sexual acting out that puts one at risk and destroys one’s capacity to make love to another human being is not work. It is degradation, especially since more than ninety percent of those involved ion it are actively addicted to drugs and the prostitution is other enforced by a pimp that is exploiting them, or necessary to support their slow suicide from enslavery to toxins.

  • Khatti

    Do I think that prostitution should be legal? Yeah. I’m not sure what the ‘Human Right” thing is all about. People who are opposed to prostitution seem to believe that every person engaging in it is no older than ten and is supporting an abusive father and a Colombian street gang. There is no real effort to separate the chaff from the wheat.

    • Jamie H

      You need to read The Guardian’s editorial. Just because all prostitution isn’t about the ridiculous extremes you cite, it doesn’t mean that we should give it a pass and call it a “human right.” There are very few prostitutes who do it truly willingly.

      • hookstrapped

        The “human right” aspect is poorly expressed and conceived in the draft policy, and it was in reference to the rights of people, including the disabled, to sexual expression and fulfillment. What the AI position is primarily about is decriminalization of prostitution in order to reduce the harms and dangers for sex workers that result from criminalization.

      • Khatti

        How unwilling is unwilling? I don’t have the job I got right now for its entertainment value. Don’t you have those “If I won the lottery” conversations where you work?

  • bob hicks

    I’m an Amnesty International supporter, but I think AI has gone off the rails with its position that prostitution is a human right. IMHO, the Guardian editorial did a nice job of pointing out why the organization’s position is so profoundly wrongheaded.

  • Sue de Nim

    This sounded so preposterous when I heard it, I found myself double-checking that it wasn’t April 1.

  • aminahyaquin

    Under no circumstances should “prostituition” be considered a human right. It was my opportunity in NYC to meet many prostitutes when I lived on the Lower East Side…we breakfasted together often, when they were coming off shift and I was rising early to get a head start on my job. There was almost a universal rule of them that all were active addicts, and more than ninety percent had been sexually abused and /or assaulted as children. Of the remainder, most were unsafe in their own home and were groomed by pimps and intentionally addicted to drugs to make them sex slaves, in effect. Gruesome!
    Things have not only not changed, selling one’s bodily orifices (o renting them out) ruins sex for the great majority of prostitutes, and makes making love virtually impossible. Escorts ae NO DIFFERENT, The compulsive nature of sexual acting out in the few cases of prostitutes who are not active addicts to drugs, nor were they sexually abused , nor were they groomed…is an addiction to sex itself, and a compulsively disordered, anti-social, narcissism that endangers self and others.
    Horrible stance by AI.

    • Khatti

      Were they drug addicts because they were prostitutes, or were they prostitutes because they were drug addicts? If any of the would have won the Powerball would they have stopped being drug addicts? You want to help streetwalkers get off the street that’s great, but I don’t see how criminalization is helping do the job.

  • Martha

    How is this AI proposition any different than Planned Parenthood making money?( Planned P finally caught and confirmed today in video and only shown on Fox news and their O’Reilly show ( where are the other media_CNN, CBS, etc.? why don’t they discuss this horrendous event? They cover a dead lion but won’t cover Gozwell’s multi abortion screwup murders and deaths of mothers in Philly last year now will they cover this story on selling baby parts and thus committing a crime. Where is the White House on this? Obama and Hillary support Planned Parenthood and Planned P has made $$$ donations to their campaigns..amazing that is even allowed since we all fund Planned parenthood. Meanwhile where is our Gov. Dayton on this? He has been quiet on the sex trafficing of immigrants to MN and on Planned Parenthood Hillary said:
    Clinton said the attacks on the organization are an attack on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.)Every woman has “a right” to order the killing of her unborn child) where is that listed as a “Right” in our Constitution? I can’t seem to find that. It says, The Right to LIFE, LIBERTY and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    “I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years,” Hillary said as she accepted millions from Soros and PP. .

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Off topic rant.

  • Martha

    I wonder if Hillary would agree with AI and find prostitution acceptable given the revealing news about Bill?
    First he had the trips with the millionair pedophile to the “sex” island with underage prostitutes. When questioned, he took the Fifth so that says a lot.
    Hillary was President, we’d have a first “lady”man Bill with prostitutes that could learn national secrets and blackmail for more! That might remind her of her own issues with classified docs.
    Hillary’s home email server violated security_ every expert assures China and probably Russia have her emails of national concern.
    Here’s a taste of why I can’t support Hillary anymore_ first is her confirmed lies about the Benghazi scandal where our Ambassador was killed, then the Libya war issues, then she lied to congress about never sending any work national classified emails, then she lied about never getting a congressional supoena, then this week we find she has accepted donations from Planned Parenthood that gets federal funding!, then these new issues:

    From Kessler’s new book:
    “Bill Clinton reportedly has a buxom blond mistress who visits so
    often when Hillary Clinton isn’t home in Chappaqua that the former
    president’s Secret Service detail have given her an unofficial code
    name: Energizer.”

    This is according to Ronald Kessler in “The First Family Detail:
    Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of Presidents,” due Aug. 5
    from Crown Forum. Kessler is no stranger to the controversies surrounding the Secret Service. He broke the story that Secret Service agents protecting President
    Obama in Cartagena, Colombia, hired prostitutes, and put the president
    in jeopardy.

    The book, portions of which I’ve obtained, says none of the normal
    protocols is followed when Energizer arrives in her SUV, sometimes just
    minutes after Hillary has left the Westchester house.

    Kessler quotes a supervisor informing a new agent: “You don’t stop her, you don’t approach her, you just let her go in.”
    Energizer, who is described as charming and friendly, sometimes brought cookies to the agents, according to the book excerpts.

    One told Kessler: “It was a warm day, and she was wearing a low-cut
    tank top, and as she leaned over, her breasts were very exposed. They
    appeared to be very perky and very new and full … There was no doubt in
    my mind they were enhanced.”

    Kessler also reports that Hillary’s Secret Service detail informs
    Bill’s Secret Service detail when the former first lady is coming home,
    so Bill has time to get Energizer off the property and clean up any
    evidence.
    Yup, Hillary may not agree with prostitutes as a Right but she agrees that killing unborn is no big deal and selling the body parts isn’t worthy of the AG to investigate but oh my! they will investigate a dead lion in Africa??????

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Another off topic rant.

  • hookstrapped

    I see you removed the mistaken reference to the fake AI tweet. However, you still refer to the extracted and linked piece as a Guardian “editorial.” It is clearly not an editorial but a (sponsored) opinion piece. Really sloppy work here…

  • lindblomeagles

    Prostitution takes several forms and operates much, much, much differently than normal businesses often do. Pimps, like the infamous Evans Family, have approached runaway teens at our Mall of America, tricked the teens into going with them, and then brutalized the teens to gain their cooperation before sending the teens out to johns in Minnesota and other states. In several southeast Asian countries, girls and women walking the streets alone have been kidnapped, then sold to pimps in other countries who put them to work upon arrival. NPR actually did a story not that long ago about African women attempting to flee the continent’s dire poverty and civil war, securing passage out of that hell to Europe only when and after the African women serviced johns in Africa. Some of those same African women, the story read were then charged another fee, a settlement fee, in Europe, that could only be paid off by turning tricks until the money is recouped. Duluth, another sex trafficking harbor, frequently forces drug addicted mothers into the business so that they can pay their debt and ease drug withdrawal pains. There’s a fine line between some one who willingly, voluntarily, wants to become a high paid escort servicing the sexual desires of prominent, wealthy, private and public figures versus the vast majority of women who are employed in the global sex trade. And once you’re in something like that, its extremely difficult to get out. You don’t trust human beings, you have nothing in common with ordinary everyday women, and you can’t stop reliving the things you were forced to do.