What’s Current: Survivors speak out against Amnesty International’s pro-prostitution policy

Survivors speak out against Amnesty International’s policy supporting the decriminalization of pimps and johns. In her message to Amnesty, Alisa Bernard, survivor and Board Member at Organization of Prostitution Survivors, says:

“Demand for commercial sex leads to prostitution… You say that you’re opposed to sex trafficking, but by adopting this policy, you are promoting prostitution. You are promoting the expansion of the market that will increase sex trafficking.”

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Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • will

    That video is powerful and heartening. What tremendous courage those people have!

    AI will most certainly have to reverse this position. I just don’t know how long it will take them. I do hope that the persons behind it feel the shame that they ought to for the damage they have done to vulnerable people. I hope that those individuals at AI will devote and equal or greater amount of energy they have spent promoting human trafficking to holding johns accountable for their actions and to stamping out the sex trade altogether.

  • Meghan Murphy

    “Sex worker organizations” are less likely to provide shelter or exiting services because they are mostly just harm reduction orgs or advocacy orgs. Under decriminalization there is (supposedly) no need to support women who wish to leave because, of course, under decriminalization prostitution is not viewed as harmful. Under the Nordic model, retraining, education, housing, support to women who leave is written into the law because the model understands that most women want out, but simply don’t have options/support to leave.

  • lk

    From the video, one of the survivors said: “Because someone pays for you, they think they can do whatever the heck they want to you and they do..I’ve been thrown out of cars, hospitalized, you name it, it happened to me out there and its going to happen to the current workers.”

    She just summed up prostitution perfectly.

    This is the thing that I could never wrap my mind around back when I was pro-legalizing/decrim prostitution-how violent, abusive and cruel johns were. If johns are mostly just nice, decent guys looking to get laid, why do so many of them treat prostitutes so terribly?

    • Wren

      Cause they can.

  • Sara Marie

    The very-real lack of women’s (and the poor and vulnerable more generally) options under current conditions in most places around the globe is something that needs to be changed ASAP. So, I agree with you there.

    But Meghan is right that countries that decrim the sex trade do not offer exit services. If the sex trade is a job like any other, why is special assistance necessary to leave?

    But really, the Nordic Model is about holding abusers accountable for their actions. Men shouldn’t have free reign over women’s bodies and choices. I don’t agree with any anti-trafficking group that is judgmental towards people in the sex trade or tries to tell them what to do. In my opinion, that is not the place of the abolitionist movement. I really don’t have any issue with harm reduction in general; it’s only the fact that many of these groups want to normalize the sex trade and promote it as being “cool” to the uninformed that I have issue with.

  • Rocio

    Looks can be deceiving sometimes, but those women and the man in that video look like regular working class women including non-White women (& the man). I see the sex workers who dominate online debates usually look really pretty & White and they just miss that je ne sais quoi look that a lot of working class women have who have struggled where it shows in their faces.

  • Spark658

    Meghan, you were on point with the PBS debate last night. Glad that you do what you do, more people need to hear it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you! Solidarity!

  • Sara Marie

    I just watched the video where the survivors speak to AI decision makers. It is super-powerful. I would hope that as many people as possible would share it in every network they can. Yes, the AI board needs to see this, but so does everyone else.