Amnesty International to determine a policy position on decriminalization of sex work

Jun 28, 2014
Politics
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Human rights organization Amnesty International is holding global talks to develop a policy position on sex work.

The consultations are focused around supporting full decriminalization.

However Amnesty International Australia’s Gabe Kavanagh says discussions will take all different viewpoints into account.

“Each Amnesty officer around the world has gone out and consulted broadly on that (decriminalisation) proposal,” Ms Kavanagh said.

“We have heard a huge array of views. The fact that the proposed policy takes up a position in no way stifles the ability of any of our members or supporters who perhaps are more towards the abolition end of the spectrum from coming in and telling us what they think.”

PHOTO: Scarlet Alliance, an industry advocacy group, says full decriminalisation is the only way to protect the human rights of sex workers. (Mark Smith: ABC News)

PHOTO: Scarlet Alliance, an industry advocacy group, says full decriminalization is the only way to protect the human rights of sex workers. (Mark Smith: ABC News)

The Scarlet Alliance, a sex industry advocacy group, disagrees and says full decriminalization is the only way to protect the human rights of sex workers.

The group’s chief executive, Janelle Fawkes, says since the Australian state of NSW decriminalized sex work in 1995 things have improved for sex workers.

“Pre-decriminalization was often referred to as the paper-bag times, where as a sex industry business, you had to hand over a paper bag full of money to police in order to continue operating,” Ms Fawkes said.

“And for individual sex workers that meant either handing over money or providing sexual services to police in order to be allowed to operate or avoid arrest.”

Ms Fawkes says decriminalization will bring sex workers on par with other businesses, providing them access to industrial laws including occupational health and safety regulations.

Sex worker “Zara” says she has worked in the sex industry for 10 years.

She now works in NSW and is a big supporter of decriminalization.

“If I experience violence at work, I can go to the police without fear of being arrested,” Zara said.

“Decriminalization means if I experience bad working conditions I can go to Fair Work Australia and know they will see my work as work and they will treat my concerns seriously.”

Zara says decriminalization is a message to the world that sex work is legitimate work and sex workers need to be treated with dignity – both in their work and in society.

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Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
6 years ago

i’m a member of AE and appreciate much of the work they do in this world. Let’s hope they understand that sex workers harassed and jailed for trying to earn a living are just as much political prisoners as those who were oppressed for taking on the establishment in a more polemical way.

Oppression is oppression. There will certainly be those present who will argue for the impossible and ultimately undesirable goal of sex work abolition and they will be heard.

Let’s just hope the voices of sex workers are heard too.

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