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

 

CASE Convention Against Sexual Exploitation (draft)

Are Women People?

Meanwhile, the proposed and updated Convention Against Sexual Exploitation represents women collectively and individually, requiring protections, sanctions, and support programs for victims. And it is the least we should expect.

Conventions are international treaties. The proposed Convention Against Sexual Exploitation would not be the first United Nations convention to explicitly address women’s rights. The Convention on the Political Rights of Women was adopted as early as 1952 and was preceded by the convention on prostitution (1949). These were followed by several conventions and offical U.N. declarations to protect women’s rights in marriage (1957) and to protect women in children in armed conflict (declaration of 1974).

[…]

And as women know very very well, adding women to codified rights is not the same as actually protecting and promoting those rights for women. That is why, wiht this long and elaborate history of women’s rights codified but largely ignored by the United Nations, many of us held high hopes for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 and ratified by nation states beginning in 1980.

But as often happens when legislation turns to women, something is lost. The loss is first evident in the absence of moral outrage against violation of women. One of the effects of the long-term sexual colonisation of women’s bodies, of the advocacy of this colonization by sexual liberals, and of its institutionalization by sex industries, is that many women can barely grasp our right to moral outrage against sexual dehumunization. When the United Nations turns to women, emphasis on humans rights is narrowed and its commitments seem to fizzle.  […]

The losses women suffered in CEDAW, adopted in the midst of a global women’s movement which raised sexual violence and exploitation to issues of primary importance, are that in relation to sexual exploitation it did not cover or include violence against women it simply reaffirmed the 1949 Convention on prostitution, a law that would have been useful had it been promulgated in 1890 but by the 1980s no longer addressed global sex industrialization and the normalization of prostitution.

Kathleen Barry, The Prostitution of Sexuality. The Global Exploitation of Women. pp. 316 and 309-311

CASE – Convention Against Sexual Exploitation (1994)

CASE – Convention Against Sexual Exploitation (October 2016)

“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

Urgent letter from Australia

The latest update from AI Australia is that while some members have questioned the origin of the draft policy on prostitution, 62% are for full decriminalization. AI Australia have sourced their consultation from the Scarlet Alliance (and others) which is a pimp run group allied with Douglas Fox (Brothel owner) who drafted the policy in the first place.
The Scarlet Alliance are a group posing as a support service to prostituted people yet have no exiting strategies, and have everything to lose if the Nordic Model is put in place here.
The Scarlet Alliance place great emphasis on the perils of the stigmatization of “sex workers” by “non-sex-workers” when the stigma should lie squarely with them (the pimps) and the johns.
.
The Scarlet Alliance say that they get their information from “sex workers”- what they don’t say is that in their policy language everyone from a pimp to the taxi driver is deemed a “sex worker.” This is KEY strategy by which they say whatever suits them and can claim it is from the prostituted.
The next forum is June 22 and it is likely that the decision to implement this policy drafted by those selling commercialized rape will pass if we don’t act.

Please email AIA at: policyconsultation@amnesty.org.au

Let them know we are not going to give in to the continued use of women as commodities nor be fooled by the claim that it will help keep women and children safer! We know this claim is a lie and the pimps have no concern about anything but lining their own pockets.

Just as we do not expect mining companies to give accurate or honest opinions on Land Rights and Indigenous peoples, we cannot expect it from those who make money off the ongoing sexual slavery of other human beings.
In solidarity, Urgently,

Simone Andrea

Proposed Canadian bill regarding the Nordic Model

The  proposed bill falls short of what we want in the new Canadian legislation. Yes, the pimps and buyers of sex are criminalized, but so are the sellers – mostly women. Yes, there is concern for women exploited in prostitution, with support for programs, and good that they recognize that, but their emphasis is on children. In fact, except for the support programs for prostituted women to leave prostitution, this is very much like the US laws where everyone is criminalized, but only women are arrested. The idea of the Nordic Model is:

  • provide exit help to women (others) in prostitution
  • provide counselling, health care  and help to women (others) in prostitution irrespective of exit wish
  • police training to implement the law according to its intentions
  • campaigning publicly and in schools to explain the law and to further equal and free relationships
  • criminzalizing the buyers of sex/sexual access to women and others

 

See also the press release by We Want More for Women at Vancouver Rape Relief and Meghan Murphy’s very informative article on Feminist Current.

Amnesty members in Australia: Nordic Model!

Media release:

Amnesty International’s proposed policy to decriminalise pimps and buyers met with opposition at Australian Amnesty state Annual General Meetings on the weekend.

The proposed policy was raised at Amnesty state level AGMs around Australia Saturday May 10, with dissent from Amnesty members. Amnesty Queensland and Amnesty Tasmania voted against the draft policy. Members voted instead to adopt the Nordic Model of prostitution, which decriminalises prostituted people, while at the same time criminalises pimps, traffickers and buyers. WA members voted in favour of a new process, which would involve seeking input from those who have survived sex industry violence. There was rigorous debate on the issue in other states.

Former president of the United States and human rights champion, Jimmy Carter, is the latest big name to speak out against the proposal. In an interview with Robin Morgan, Carter said ‘it’s inconceivable to me that Amnesty International, or any other organisation that respects human rights, would endorse slave masters’.

Escort agency manager, Douglas Fox, has claimed the credit for the policy’s development and advancement throughout the organisation. Fox manages one of the biggest escort agencies in the UK, along with his male partner. Fox has held leadership positions in Amnesty International, with an agenda of decriminalising prostitution.

While escort agency managers have been given a voice by the international secretariat of Amnesty, survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking say they have been ignored by Amnesty’s international leadership.

The Swedish branch of Amnesty International has also taken a stand against the decriminalisation of pimps and buyers of prostitution.

The consultation on the draft policy on decriminalisation of pimps and buyers of sex was initially slated to be resolved at the International AGM in June. However, due to strong opposition internationally from prostitution survivors, Amnesty members and other human rights organisations, Amnesty International had pushed back the decision until August 2015.

Sunday May 11, 2014

Related media release by NORMAC (Nordic Model Australia Coalition) here

Great news, and cheers to Australian abolitionists and Amnesty members!

Jimmy Carter to Amnesty International – in full support of Nodic Model

President Jimmy Carter to the Secretary General of Amnesty International:

”I believe that to adopt this policy proposal [on the legalization of sex work] would undermine important gains being made to generate a consensus around the urgent goal of reducing this form of sexual exploitation.

After reviewing many of the approaches that have been tried and studied, I have concluded that the most important policy change will be to increase penalties for pimps and consumers and to decriminalize victims and survivors.”

President Carter sent this letter to the Secretary General of Amnesty International with an attached request that it be shared by every member of AI worldwide.

Our heartfelt thanks go to former US President Jimmy Carter for his swift action towards Amnesty International and for his full support of the Nordic Model.  President Carter’s decision comes as a great encouragement for survivors and activists, for our work and efforts to globally raise awareness of what prostitution really is, and to abolish this violation of human rights.

Abolish Prostitution Now