Abolishing the sexual exploitation industry:

President Carter speaks out on commercial sexual exploitation

“President Carter invites you to follow and support the Carter Center and Rotary International’s World Summit: End Sexual Exploitation 2025. The summit will focus on ending sexual exploitation by encouraging every nation to adopt the Swedish model of prosecuting those who buy or profit from the purchase of sexual services, rather than targeting prostitutes or those who have been forced into the industry. The summit will also focus on pushing the U.N. to pass their Convention Against Sexual Exploitation, and providing adequate resources for those who leave the sex industry.”

The summit was held in May 2015.

The World Summit: End Sexual Exploitation 2025, was held May 11-12, 2015, at The Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga. Each of the working groups at that meeting developed a list of recommendations  which are published here.

 

 

UN Women: “Consultation seeking views … on sex work, the sex trade and prostitution”

UN Women has sent a call for “Consultation seeking views on UN Women approach to sex work, the sex trade and prostitution” to various advocacy groups.

The call states:

“Currently UN Women does not have an explicit policy position with regard to sex work, the sex trade or prostitution and is in the process of developing such a position.”

Recent papers by UN Women have left us deeply worried as to the understanding a number of women within this UN entity have of the sex industry.

The deadline for submissions is October 16, 2016.

Statements by

“various people and groups, agencies and organizations which have an interest in this issue including: sex workers/ sex worker groups, survivors of prostitution and groups representing them, feminist and women’s rights organizations”

can be sent to  consultation@unwomen.org with the subject title “Written submission”

The UN Women call for consultation is available in these languages:

English

Pусский

العربية

中国

Français

Español

 

Statement by prostitution survivors and those who have been harmed in the sex trade

This is a statement and response developed for the attention of Amnesty International leadership and grass roots membership, by a group of prostitution survivors and people who are or have been harmed in the sex trade. We are involved in a growing global movement of people who have become politicised, expert and knowledgable about the way the sex trade operates, starting from our own experiences.

Although we have all experienced harm in the sex trade and therefore have an abolitionist perspective of the trade, we also have extensive knowledge from all perspectives, having researched throughly the impacts of different legal systems around the world from an objective point of view. Some of us are active Amnesty International members and we are concerned about the organisation and it’s reputation as a human rights defender, especially since the organisation has done good work historically against sexual exploitation and the expansion of harm.

We understand that Amnesty are looking to push through a sex trade decriminalisation policy and that in August the Amnesty International Council (one of the international decision making forums of the organisation) are planning to put a resolution, which if passed, will give power to the international board (another section of Amnesty International) to develop a policy for full decriminalisation (including of sex trade buyers and/or pimps) or a policy that implies this sort of decriminalisation, within 7 principles.

We understand that some of these principles are well intended, however we are deeply concerned that the organisation is going to pass something that will have unintended consequences of expanding the size and impact of the sex trade and therefore expanding the harm caused to many people (mainly women and children) who get caught up in it. We are also concerned about the messages this will send to men and how it will influence the choices they make towards and power relations to women.

It is no secret that we (the survivor movement) do not support the decriminalisation of buyers and pimps, we instead support a legal model that enables women to be able to hold both buyers and pimps accountable for harm that they cause as a direct result of prostituting and pimping. No other laws legislate for the protection of a person who wants to report, for example, a buyer who through his actions of making a choice to buy sex has caused trauma, even though 67 percent of women who have been prostituted develop PTSD (Farley, Prostitution Research). With stats like this, why would we not put provisions in place to enable the buyer to be accountable? Without buyers, this harm would not exist, neither would trafficking, and we advocate for a system where women in the sex trade are decriminalised and can report their buyers and where the buyers are held to account. Given that buyers are causing this extensive harm, we consider it a human rights violation to enable them to have rights to legally pay to use another person for sex and for those harmed as a consequence to not be able to report these men.

We recognise that there is no consensus within the Amnesty movement around whether or not buyers or pimps should be criminalised and we therefore encourage Amnesty International to develop our/their policy based on human rights principles where the rights of survivors do not get violated and in which the movement has a broad consensus. Although we ideally want to see human rights orgs advocating for the Nordic model, the survivor movement would welcome a compromise where a set of policy is developed on a set of principles that does not enable the decriminalisation of buyers and pimps, but this could be that a position is not taken on the legalities of these men, and instead a unity is build on decriminalising those who are in prostitution and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable from a human rights perspective. We also would like to see neutral and inclusive language to be used, that does not alienate people in prostitution who do not identify as ‘sex workers’. This was passed in an Australian resolution at the 2015 NAGM.

 

Please see below our comments about the current principles and suggestions for strengthening them in line with a true human rights approach.

 

Policy calling for the decriminalization of sex work The International Council REQUESTS the International Board to adopt a policy calling for the decriminalization of sex work, taking into account –

 

  1. The harm reduction principle.

Response:

Many harm reduction principles are old school thinking that harm and oppression is inevitable and can be made ‘nicer’. For example, through providing condoms for trafficking and prostitution victims, rather than stopping their abuse. We believe this needs to be a stronger position for an approach to work towards the true reduction and ultimately in the long term near elimination of harm, by raising the consciousness of men around the risks of harm each time a man pays for sex.

 

  1. That states can impose legitimate restrictions on sex work, provided that such restrictions comply with international human rights law, in particular in that they must be for a legitimate purpose, provided by law, necessary for and proportionate to the legitimate aim sought to be achieved, and not discriminatory.

Response:

There is no ‘human rights law’ that awards sex buyers rights. Pimps and buyers do not need to have rights to pay for sex. It should, however, be a human right to be able to hold men to account and to be able to report men who purchase or pimp women for sex, if they cause harm (including PTSD). It is also a human right for all girls and women to be in a society free from sexual exploitation and that is not possible for any women and girls whilst the sex trade is so big and getting bigger through increased societal legitimisation and laws that enable the industry to expand.

 

  1. Amnesty International’s longstanding position that trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation should be criminalized as a matter of international law.

Response:

Trafficking is just one of many means of males with power getting women and girls into the sex trade, there are many more ways and ultimately we know that the majority of adult women in the sex trade, who are there by any means, not just trafficking, develop PTSD as a result of being prostituted. This could be strengthened by including something that protects all women, including, but not limited to those trafficked, from harm.

 

  1. That any child involved in a commercial sex act is a victim of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law, and that states must take all appropriate measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Response:

Prostitution does not become less harmful on someone’s 18th birthday. All women/people in the sex trade need rights to be able to report men who prostitute them,whatever age they are. This could be strengthened, within the boundaries of retaining broad consensus, by a principle that enables a policy recognising that often children in prostitution become adults in prostitution at age 18 and at any age may need protections.

 

  1. The growing evidence that many individuals who engage in sex work do so due to socio-economic marginalization and limited choices, and that therefore Amnesty International should urge states to take appropriate measures to realize the social, economic and cultural rights of all people so that no person enters sex work against their will, and those who decide to undertake sex work should be able to leave if and when they choose.

Response:

This is victim blaming. Saying that the sex trade exists because of women making choices and because women are poor and marginalised relieves perpetrators of responsibility. The reality is that all people who are prostituted are bought by a john (buyer), and nearly always these perpetrators are male. It is because of the choices of these men and the demand they create that women/people are in prostitution. Of course, most of the time women are in desperate situations, and this fact makes the actions of perpetrators all the more exploitative. It means that men should be held to account and informed that they risk inflicting PTSD on the people they buy for sex. In addition, women should be able to report their johns anytime they want, it is not good enough to say that if a woman develops PTSD she should just leave the industry and it’s her responsibility, by then it’s too late, the damage is done. Men must be held to account, and the people being bought for sex must be decriminalised. This is the Nordic model solution. Any law that is passed impacts on all people in prostitution, including trafficked people and those who are suffering PTSD. What we know from evidence is that the industry grows where we have decriminalised or legalised buyers and pimps. These approaches will always expand the abuse, there is no way to avoid that.

 

  1. The obligation of states to protect every individual in their jurisdiction from discriminatory policies, laws and practices, given that the status and experience of being discriminated against are themselves often key factors in what leads people into sex work.

Response:

Discrimination and oppression, particularly against women, contributes to the restrictions on the decisions that they make, but again the sex trade would not exist without buyers and they are responsible for the prostituting of women.

 

  1. The evidence from Amnesty International’s research on the actual, lived, human impact of various criminal law and regulatory approaches to the human rights of sex workers.

Response:

there is lots of research on the sex trade, Amnesty’s being one. We do not believe that there is sufficient time prior to Augusts meeting for the Amnesty community to have time to scrutinise the research methodology and outcomes and compare it with other research. Therefore, we recommend that any policy decision is postponed until a time where it is possible to undertake such research. Also to note, it is very disappointing that AI has not used inclusive language here to acknowledge people in the sex trade and survivors and the impact of legal systems on the most harmed and vulnerable.

 

What Now?

In Australia, the Amnesty Members Against Sex Trade Pimps and Buyers group, which includes sex trade survivors, will be organising a global conference in Melbourne on first weekend of December to reclaim Amnesty International as a real human rights organisation, to express our dissent towards the infiltration of our organisation by pimps and sex trade apologists. We will develop our own policy platform on prostitution, which we will communicate to Amnesty members across the world. Please get involved by joining our Facebook page. We also encourage you to write publicly about this issue and to email your branch presidents. We welcome all voting delegates at Augusts meeting to get in touch with us.

 

Amnesty International against pimps and buyers.

“Ignored and mis-represented repeatedly”: Treatment of survivors of sex industry violence and supporters, at the 2014 AI Australia National Annual General Meeting (NAGM)

July 17, 2014

Letter of complaint regarding the unfair treatment of survivors of sex industry violence

and supporters, at the 2014 AIA National Annual General Meeting (NAGM)

This is a letter of formal complaint to the Amnesty International Australia Board.

We, members of Amnesty International Australia, believe that at the recent NAGM, there were some serious concerns that need to be addressed by Amnesty branches and membership.

Survivors of sex industry violence, who were speaking at the NAGM and presenting resolutions, were:

  • ignored and mis-represented repeatedly,
  • placed in psychologically harmful situations,
  • denied prior information about the situation they would be placed in (despite actively seeking it) and
  • treated differently from other guest speakers who were talking about other human rights violations.

Amnesty International Australia invited Scarlet Alliance to participate in two workshops at the 2014 Human Rights Conference, as well as give a 2-minute presentation at the NAGM. This was in spite of the fact prostitution survivors and their supporters, all of whom were AIA members, had requested that a safe, non-adversarial space be provided by organisers for the workshops and NAGM where survivors would speak.

Scarlet Alliance is an organisation that downplays the incidence and harm of sex trafficking.

The organisation advocates for the inclusion of prostitution in Australia’s 457-visa skilled occupation list, and for the creation of a ‘sex work’ visa category. Scarlet Alliance minimizes the activities of traffickers through alternatively using the term ‘third-party agents’, and through describing debt bondage arrangements facilitating the trafficking of women into Australia as ‘alternate entry means to those trying to travel for work’, and as legitimate employment ‘contracts’ drafted by ‘people who will facilitate their entry into Australia’. This organisation opposes government anti-trafficking measures, and claims that ‘the greatest threat to the health, safety and human rights of migrant sex workers is government antitrafficking policy’.

Scarlet Alliance is well known among survivor organisations for its actions attempting to silence survivors who speak out about the harms of prostitution. For example, soon after the NAGM, a Scarlet Alliance member used social media (1) to claim that a survivor who spoke in a workshop about her experience of harm in prostitution could have been charged with pimping. This is an outrageous and hurtful claim that was personally directed. At the second workshop, too, the same survivor was belittled by an Scarlet Alliance member over her claimed right to report a prostitution buyer. These are examples of the bullying tactics this organisation is well known for.

By inviting Scarlet Alliance members to the Human Rights Conference and NAGM, and giving them a platform to speak, AIA did a disservice and an injury to members, especially those members who are survivors of prostitution. These members volunteered in good faith to speak about their experiences of harm at the AIA events, but organisers betrayed them through creating an unsafe and hostile speaking environment. Specifically, AIA organisers failed to:

  • Respond to requests from survivors about the planned formats and speaking lists for the two workshops.
  • Respond to requests from survivors to change the workshop program description to delete or amend phrases such as ‘sex worker industry’ and to include survivors.
  • Supply a neutral person to chair the workshop.
  • Without warning, the workshop program was changed to include a chair who is open about his views in support of sex industry decriminalisation.
  • While this was ultimately changed, this change occurred only after requests from survivor supporters
  • Manage workshops in a way that minimised harm to survivors. Speakers at the second workshop in particular were allowed by the chair to attack survivors personally over their experiences. This was unacceptable, and would never be permitted in similar circumstances of childhood sexual abuse survivors speaking out (cf. the current Royal Commission hearings in which Justice Peter McClellan does not permit defamatory or stereotyped assertions to go unchallenged in proceedings)
  • Consider the inappropriateness of an adversarial format for the two conference workshops. AIA would not consider it appropriate for survivors of torture to speak publicly together with deniers of the harms of torture, and nor should AIA facilitate speaking events in which publicly declared deniers of the harms of prostitution are given a platform.
  • Understand the hypocrisy of issuing ‘trigger’ warnings and warnings about language usage at the workshops while failing to use terms respectful of survivors, and in fact

setting up events that were wholly disrespectful of the wishes of survivors in their organisation and conduct. The workshops were organised in a way that failed to respect even the most modest requests from survivors for the use of neutral language.

  • Understand the hypocrisy of offering the assistance of a social worker after the second workshop, while having conducted the workshop in a way that was hostile to the interests and wellbeing of survivors.
  • See the inconsistency in allowing non-AIA members to be allowed a platform to speak at the Human Rights Conference and NAGM on an issue that had been brought to these AIA by survivors who are members of AIA, supported by state branches. Scarlet Alliance members had not registered for the events, nor contributed to their planning.

Their participation was particularly inappropriate at the NAGM where AIA members were discussing resolutions in support of survivors and the Nordic Model. (Both of which Scarlet Alliance is publicly hostile to and has already been directly contacted for their contribution to the consultation on the draft policy.)

  • Understand the inappropriateness of scheduling three speakers in opposition to the two scheduled survivors at the first workshop. While the third speaker was from AIA, and not SA, her views in favour of decriminalisation are still widely known.

Some AIA executive members, who represent AIA on an international basis, appear to maintain unprofessionally close alliances with members of Scarlet Alliance (and there is public evidence of these alliances), as witnessed over the course of the Human Rights Conference and NAGM. These alliances stand in stark contrast to the treatment of survivors and their supporters by key AIA leaders.

Survivors were marginalised, and eventually excluded, from the Human Rights Conference and NAGM as a result of the hostile environment created by organisers and participation by SA members. For example, survivors were eventually unable to represent their resolutions at the NAGM on behalf of branches because of distress, and were unable to represent themselves for the national executive committee elections.

Given the treatment of survivors of prostitution at NAGM, we are concerned that the close relationship of senior national and international AIA officers, including Nicole Bieske, Gabe Kavanagh and Senthorun Raj, with Scarlet Alliance and their outspoken support for the current draft policy will hinder their ability to be rigorous presenters of the resolutions passed at NAGM. These resolutions supported a new consultation and unbiased widespread consideration of the Nordic model and the proactive involvement of survivors of prostitution and the organisations that provide support to survivors.

We ask that Amnesty International Australia Board:

1. consider how Amnesty Australia address these past behaviours and ensure that the NAGM resolutions are represented internationally with the respect and power that a resolution from NAGM should carry with it.

2. that representatives attending internationally to represent Australia, are not pro sex trade supporters and that accountability mechanisms are put in place to ensure the voice of AIA members and our dissent to the consultation process and pro sex trade bias are represented.

3. that survivors of sex industry violence are treated with the same level of considerationas other people who have suffered human rights abuses.

Signed

Amnesty International Australia Members

Names of signatories removed for wider distribution outside Amnesty International Australia.

Over 5000 signatures in total on our change.org petitions

 

(1)  1 https://twitter.com/scarletalliance

Amnesty – making the exploited conform to the language of the exploiters?

This is a report from a telephone conference with Amnesty International Australia members.

It is cringe-worthy to be part of a conference arguing international policy on prostitution with one of the largest human rights organizations in the world, and hearing them defer unanimously to pro-prostitution lobby speech.

It is like a stab in the guts to be asked to conform to sanitized etymology and use these terms to avoid upsetting “anyone”.

It is unbearable to know that someone has left the conference because while they define your experience for you as “sex work”, your use of the word “johns” is unacceptable to the point that they get a heartfelt apology from the Chair.

Yet we did bear it.

Many AI members who are survivors and many AI members who support the Nordic Model do not feel represented by this language and proceeding. They do not want to be presented like this by the drafters of this hideous policy created by the pimp lobby, and this is not what they joined Amnesty for.

To explain:
The terms “sex work” and “sex worker” were coined and very successfully launched by the very organisations that seek to legalise all aspects of the sex industry, and mainly its enormous profits. The terms are sold off to us all as less stigmatizing and less insulting than “prostitution” and “prostitute”. What they do – and this is their intent – is to sanitize what the prostitution of women, of children, of people does to the prostituted. Our perception gets diverted from the ugly, physical and emotional realities of what being in prostitution means to an abstract idea of “work”, of prostitution as “work as any other”. The woman in prostitution is no longer recognized as a human being in an exploitative, violent and abusive situation that denies her fundamental rights. She becomes someone who just has “a bad day at work.” At the same time the term “sex worker” is deliberately blurred to include everybody in this industry, from the woman in prostitution to – what is now termed – “facilitators”, “receptionists”, “landlords”, “managers”, “body guards” and “drivers”. The correct word, in fact, is: pimp.

Making survivors of prostitution use these terms dreamed up for the marketing strategies of the pro-prostitution lobby is an attempt at silencing, at denying their right to define their own experiences in any meaningful way.

This is why survivors speak of themselves as “prostituted woman” or “woman in prostitution” when they inform others about what prostitution is.

These are very clear statements on this:

Prostitution is sexual abuse

Rachel Moran’s statement at a panel discussion in the Swedish Embassy in Brussels (excerpt)

“It is not sexwork”

“Your language is part of the problem”

both by Rebecca Mott

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PLEA FROM AN AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS WOMAN ON BEHALF OF ALL WOMEN

Dear Sisters, Survivors and Allies,

I am speaking as an exited prostituted woman and the grand-daughter of a Latje-Latje Indigenous woman in Australia. As many of you are aware Amnesty International have drafted a policy in favour  of  full  decriminalisation of prostitution. They are actively opposing the Nordic Model which protects the prostituted from prosecution and decreases demand in favour of a policy which has been informed by the sex trade and one notable pimp.

Indigenous women globally are among those most threatened by sexual violence.

AI’s policy on prostitution seeks to ensure that the buying and selling of (mostly) women be seen as inevitable and just any other job. ‘Sex Worker ‘unions claiming to be helping prostituted women are actively promoting AI’s policy ensuring they too profit from our enslavement.

Many of you have written/co-signed letters from survivor groups and written as individuals

These have been an invaluable resource.

At this time here in Australia, a small and dedicated team have taken on our local Amnesty International branches. We have had some success, with two AI branches endorsing the Nordic Model and one calling for a halt on the policy until survivor’s voices have been heard.

However, we are soon going to take this to a National AGM and ask that you lend your support.

The pro-prostitution lobby is fierce, well-funded and we need your help.

I want to deliver a letter signed by Indigenous women worldwide.

Prostitution is not inevitable. Women are not commodities.

I ask that add your name, whether survivor or ally, after mine to our letter written below.  This National AGM is taking place July 5-6 so we have very little time to collect signatures.

With sincere respect I ask that you support us in this significant time of change for women.

In solidarity and Sisterhood,

Simone Andrea (Watson) of Abolish Prostitution Now Amnesty Action

 

“To the International Secretariat of Amnesty International and Salil Shetty

We the undersigned demand recognition for the violation of human rights Amnesty International’s current draft Policy on Prostitution will endorse condone and promote if passed at the Australian National AGM.

As Indigenous survivors and allies of our Indigenous sisters worldwide we fully and without reservation  demand that AI acknowledge on our behalf

* That Prostitution is not inevitable – but the result of demand

*That prostitution IS violence against women

*That trafficking and prostitution are NOT two different industries but each feed the other

* That AI’s current draft policy focuses on “harm minimization” and profit for pimps rather than prevention of our abuse and this is NOT acceptable.

* That full decriminalisation and legalisation of prostitution increases trafficking and further violence against Indigenous women and children.

*That in passing this current draft policy Amnesty International will go down in history as one of the worst offenders in human rights history along with colonialists, slave owners and human rights criminals.

*That Amnesty International concedes and thereby endorses the Nordic Model as the best way forward to end ongoing human rights violations against women as a caste globally.

Indigenous women of Australia and globally reject AI’s policy in its current form and demand that our voices be heard.

Sincerely,

Simone Watson

Jimmy Carter in his interview with Robin Morgan: Leaders in the world don’t know, and don’t want to know, how bad the abuse of women and girls is …:

“It’s inconceivable to me that Amnesty International or any other organization that respects human rights would endorse slave masters who buy young girls and put them into involuntary servitude to be sex slaves,” says Carter. “And when they go and do this with brothel owners and pimps, then to me that violates the basic principles of human rights.”

Former President Jimmy Carter at Women’s Media Center on  April 30, 2014.

Jimmy Carter has volunteered to write a letter to Amnesty International strongly condemning a draft policy proposing the decriminalization of pimps and brothel keepers, after the document was brought to his attention during an exclusive interview with Robin Morgan, author, activist, and host of Women’s Media Center Live.

Abolish Prostitution Now thanks Jimmy Carter for his clear outspokenness in favor of the human rights of women and girls and everybody in prostitution or threatened by the system of prostitution. We admire and are deeply grateful to Robin Morgan for her work and for this interview. Robin Morgan’s comment at the end of the interview are a must to listen to. The issue is – harm – not ‘choice’.

Jimmy Carter has already denounced the full decriminalization of brothel-keeping and pimping, and endorsed the Nordic Model in his statement “How Canada Can Revise Its Prostitution Laws” from December 27, 2013.

As Carter says in the interview: “Because in the United States there are 50 girls who are arrested for every one brothel owner or pimp or male customer” – we need a model that will decriminalize these girls and women, and target the first in the line of abusers, the buyers.

 

If Amnesty International succeeds in its pimp- and pro-prostitution lobby-inspired stance of decriminalizing all aspects of prostitution, that will be almost the end of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as we know and understand it. They will not have brought it down alone, there have been other forces undermining the foundation of global human rights, but the impact of AI to decriminalize and remain the leading human rights NGO of the UN cannot be underestimated. The concept of Human Rights, and of Human Dignity as universal, inalienable and shared by all equally will be replaced by the idea of “dignity” being a marketable, individual stance that is at all times subject to market forces. Safeguarding human rights – and the rights of marginalized and disadvantaged groups like women and girls – will no longer happen from the standpoint of their inalienable rights, but merely from the point of view of improving their sales opportunities.

This is unacceptable. It means giving free reign to those in power, that is those with money. Just as decriminalizing all aspects of prostitution basically means giving free reign to pimps, traffickers, brothel owners and punters. The question will no longer be – how  can women and girls (and boys and men) be kept out of prostitution, which we know to be devastating – but: How can we devise ways to make prostitution sound good, and to let those in prostitution keep a fraction of the money that is being passed around among powerful men? This is not Human Rights.

 

Links to the statements and interview:

 

Robin Morgan’s great interview with Jimmy Carter, and comments: 

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/0/a/c0a5e0d03c40442b/WMCLive_Episode81.mp3?c_id=7132085&expiration=1399094211&hwt=287d40168a8d8d779abe6f5d19eec58e

 

Press Release by the Women’s Media Center:

http://www.womensmediacenter.com/press/entry/exclusive-interview-with-president-carter-on-womens-media-center-live-with

 

Article in the Washington Examiner: Jimmy Carter slaps Amnesty International for backing ‘slave masters’ in sex trade:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/jimmy-carter-slaps-amnesty-international-for-backing-slave-masters-in-sex-trade/article/2547926

 

Statement by Jimmy Carter published on the Jimmy Carter Center’s website: 

https://www.cartercenter.org/news/editorials_speeches/jc-canadas-prostitution-laws.html