Template Organisational Letter

A friend wrote this template letter you can send to organisations seeking support against Amnesty’s proposal to have a policy supporting the decriminalisation of prostitution.

<subject line: challenging Amnesty’s pro-prostitution position>

Dear <name of contact at abolitionist organisation you’re writing to>,

I’m writing to bring to your attention that Amnesty International, the global non-profit organisation that purports to work on ending human rights violations, has formulated a position paper calling for the full decriminalisation of prostitution, including those who buy prostituted persons and profiteer from prostitution.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544983/JULIE-BINDEL-An-abject-inversion-principles.html#ixzz2rLxOvUwq

As I write this, multiple online petitions and protest events as well as offline efforts challenging Amnesty’s position and activities are already ongoing – and we can add to the impact here in <name of your country>.

Amnesty International’s position paper can be seen athttp://www.scribd.com/doc/202126121/Amnesty-Prostitution-Policy-document. Even a cursory reading of this document reveals misrepresentation and obfuscation of facts and reality, such as creating the false impression that men and women buy and sell sex in equal numbers, that most prostituted women choose to be in prostitution, that prostitution is largely non-exploitative, amongst other myths propagated by the pro-prostitution lobby. There is a clear prioritisation of the “rights” of pimps and punters to buy and sell women over the human rights of prostituted women.

Consistent with this position, Amnesty International is currently opposing the efforts of survivors in Belfast, Northern Ireland to have the Nordic Model implemented there. The organisation is lobbying the Northern Ireland assembly to defeat proposed measures to criminalise those who buy prostituted persons and provide viable exit alternatives to women in prostitution. http://stoppornculture.org/2014/01/29/lets-bust-amnesty-internationals-plan-to-legalize-human-rights-violations/

Survivor collective SPACE International has issued a powerful statement denouncing Amnesty International’s position that clearly cites how Amnesty is going against a number of human rights instruments in adopting or considering this position.http://spaceinternational.ie/public-statements/

In their responses (https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyUK/posts/10202430600741617?reply_comment_id=6801292&total_comments=7), Amnesty International have hinted at “consultations with their international sections”. This, I believe, is a chance for us to exert pressure on the organisation in <name of your country>.

Would <name of organisation> consider a rapid response on this issue in <name of your country? <Add your reason for writing to them. For example: When I learned of Amnesty’s policy document and actions in Belfast, I thought of writing to their office in India immediately. On reflection, I realised that the voice of a well-respected grassroots abolitionist organisation such as yours would carry far more weight than my voice alone.> Would your organisation be interested to write to Amnesty International <name of your country> and demand answers and accountability to women and children?

The Executive Director of Amnesty International <name of your country> is <name of head of Amnesty International’s country office>, who can be reached at <email address of head of Amnesty International’s country office>.

It is hard to predict how far-reaching the impact of such an action would be, but it will certainly let Amnesty know that organisations and individuals the world over are watching, and will not stand for them selling prostituted women and children out in this manner.

Sincerely,
<your name> 
<your position/ volunteer work, if directly relevant to campaign>

<If your position/ volunteer work is not directly relevant to the campaign, add a post-script with a line or two about you. For example: P.S.: I’m an independent professional in the area of communications with some experience in the non-profit sector, strongly committed to the abolitionist cause.>

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Public Statement to Amnesty International

SPACE

INTERNATIONAL

(Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment)

 

We, the members of SPACE International, object in the strongest possible terms to the position of Amnesty International (AI) on the issue of prostitution. Their recently released policy document*, which contends that the exploitation of prostitution is a matter of autonomy and choice, is deserving of nothing less than our public condemnation as a betrayal of women’s rights. Further, it is a policy position that can only be taken if one is willing to ignore the realities of how women and girls end up in prostitution in the first place.

Prostitution is a trade that thrives on the distinct lack of autonomy and choice and for Amnesty International to refer to it as ‘freely chosen gainful work’ is to explicitly ignore that nothing about commercial sexual exploitation is freely chosen. We object in every way to the message and tone of this document, beginning with its title which, by framing prostitution as ‘Sex Work’, obscures the very nature of prostitution itself. Prostitution is abusive and exploitative sexual violence against humans, most often women and girls, carried out by other humans, usually grown men, who are in positions of relative social, racial and financial privilege to the human beings whom they buy for sexual use and abuse.

 

For arguments sake, a small minority of the worlds prostituted population might be said to be choosing it; however the vast majority of those in prostitution are there as a function of lack of choice. Public policy is made to respond to what is happening to the vast majority, not a minute minority. Everywhere on earth those who endure prostitution are found, in staggering numbers, to be the economically disenfranchised, the educationally disadvantaged, the emotionally vulnerable, the sexually abused, the racially marginalised and the socially dispossessed. In the face of this globally recognised fact, Amnesty International has clearly taken a position that contradicts their own mission as a charity concerned with human rights.

 

AI’s position directly contravenes long established human rights conventions. It is at odds with several key UN instruments including the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Prostitution of Others, which holds that prostitution is ‘incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human being’. The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Article 6 articulates a similar position. The 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons similarly views prostitution as trafficking when it occurs under certain circumstances. This Protocol also discourages the demand for commercial sexual exploitation.

    

AI’s position supporting ‘the world’s oldest oppression’ ¹ places the long-standing human rights organization in alignment with some of the most brutal and violent forces known, organised criminal networks that carry out the hugely profitable business of selling human beings for sex, rather than with their victims, whose human rights are being ignored and denied. AI’s position in fact not only condones but compounds the injustice of prostitution by championing punters ‘right to buy sex’ in this bizarre and inverted document. We would advise the membership of Amnesty International to take a hard look at the pro-prostitution stance currently besmirching the reputation of Amnesty International and all those associated with it.

 

 

* ‘Decriminalisation of Sex Work: Policy Background Document’
¹ Norma Ramos, Addressing Domestic Human Trafficking, 6 U. St. Thomas 2008

Letter to Lithuania

Your Excellency, Ms Grauziniere,

 Abolish Prostitution Now! is a global campaign which aims to eliminate the harms of prostitution by eliminating the practice itself. The work of this campaign is deeply informed by survivors who have lived to recover from the harms and violations that being bought by men for prostitution has inflicted on them. We seek to change state and global policy to reflect that prostitution is a violation of human rights and like all human rights violations, consent does not lessen the violation.

There have been reports that Lithuania is considering a change in its current laws on prostitution. While we fully support the decriminalization of women in prostitution, we are deeply concerned about any moves that legalize pimping, or brothels or that do not criminalize sex-buyers as a reflection of the violence done to women in prostitution.

From the press, we have learned that you hope to raise money for prevention and for the healthcare for women in prostitution in this way. This is absurd – for a number of reasons:

1. While prostitution has indeed advanced to the status of “big business” in countries like Germany and is generating turnover and tax revenues both at the local and at the national level, it’s costs tremendously exceed any possible inland revenue. This is definitely true of the effects on the women in this “business”, and on the relationship between women and men, where the damage cannot be calculated in figures or in money. It is also true of the costs in violence, sickness, STDs, HIV and the trauma-related illnesses the women in prostitution are exposed to.

2. A large number of international studies show that most prostituted women enter the industry at the average age of 14 years old, not by choice, but as victims of trafficking and between 80 to 90% do so as a result of childhood abuse or trauma. Abuse that they never found adequate help or treatment for. Resubjecting these women to trauma and to the violence that is inherent in prostitution is disregarding their humanity. Even the very small number of women who go into prostitution “voluntarily” are confronted with violence and sexual violence so that they cannot leave this industry without damage done to their souls and bodies. This alone should be reason enough to oppose such measures, but the effects of prostitution will exceed any state profits that are feasible. And would you like for Lithuania to be seen like Germany – a state turned pimp?

3. A legalization of prostitution will lead to a massive increase in prostitution, both in the legal and illegal industry. Germany and the Netherlands have seen this, as has the state of Victoria in Australia, where illegal brothels have tripled since the introduction of a legalised system (Sullivan 2007). This also means a massive increase in crime, in trafficking, in abuse and violence, and in STDs. And in prostitution, STDs are violence done to women: The pressure on women in prostitution in Germany is so strong that very many feel compelled to undergo sexual acts without any protection. Prostitution by its very nature cannot be made “safe”. It cannot be made “profitable” enough for a state to offset its costs in money – even if that were considered an ethical approach. It cannot be turned or changed or modified or regulated into anything but an abusive practice, hurtful to the women (and men) in prostitution and to every woman in a society that deems prostitution acceptable.

We ask you to listen to survivors and to hold men who prostitute women accountable. We also ask you to look at the situation in Germany and by comparison in Sweden. Do not expose Lithuanian women to prostitution by turning it into a state-accepted method of generating acceptable revenue.

 

Yours sincerely,

Amber Aprilchild (USA)

Kathleen Barry, Ph.D. Sociologist and Professor Emerita of Penn State University

Autumn Burris, Survivors for Solutions (USA)

Kat Pinder (UK/Australia)

Inge Reed (Germany)

Agnete Strøm, Women’s Front of Norway (Norway)