The Stream

Should buying and selling sex be a crime?

Amnesty International is pushing for decriminalization of sex work, but critics say it will lead to exploitation.

Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International unleashed a fury of reaction when it pledged to push policy that would decriminalise sex work with the aim of removing abuse and stigma.
The human rights charity spent two years collecting data and anecdotal stories, and emphasizes human rights and sex worker rights must be taken into account. They say no person should be coerced into sex work and that decriminalisation would help ensure that. In explicit language they also state that they will continue to uphold all laws against violence, gender inequity, forced labour and human trafficking of any kind. Supporters are applauding the move, saying it’s the best way of protecting workers in the multi-billion dollar industry. They add there’s no evidence to suggest this will increase trafficking.  
But opposition has been strong.  Critics of Amnesty International’s move say women will further be exploited if pimps and those who buy sex are not penalised. Others say this will inevitably lead to increased human trafficking, and more abuse and exploitation, not less. They also argue decriminalising sex work will further empower men over women supported a so-called system of “gender apartheid”.  
On the next Stream, we take a look at what decriminalised sex work means and why so many are opposed to it. Join the debate at 19:30 GMT.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak to:

Catherine Murphy @AmnestyOnline
Policy adviser, Amnesty International 

Maxine Doogan @sfmistress
President, Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project 

Simone Watson
Director, NorMAC

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.