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Amnesty International – Policy on Human Rights of Sex workers

So, some people may be aware that Amnesty International have released their policy – Amnesty International Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex workers.

 This is important for the governments, not just here in Australia but the world to take note of and read, and then to take action and make decriminalisation the policy of choice for sex workers in their country. Why? you may ask, and this is a good question. The reason that decriminalisation and the fact that Amnesty International have supported this with their policy on sex work is important because it means that rather then criminalising clients or sex workers, sex workers can now have the same human rights as any other workers. Safe work environments, protection from law enforcement, access to health, reduced stigma which can lead to a number of problems – mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. It also means they have the same protections as any other workers such as workers compensation, access to government services, health services and a number of other things.
Decriminalisation also means that when it comes to sex trafficking, finding these people who are victims or perpetrators of sex trafficking is more possible. Why? Because consenting sex workers who make the choice to be sex workers will no longer be accused and possibly prosecuted as pimps or even be considered victims when they aren’t.
I think its important for people to understand the difference between decriminalisation, legalisation and criminalisation of both sex workers and clients. There are a number of policies around the world. It has been shown that decriminalisation is the best policy, but not everyone understands the differences and some believe legalisation is a better policy without fully understanding decriminalisation. I have previously blogged about this (click here to view that post) but I will put up a reference from that post here.

Whats the difference between Decriminalisation and Legalisation


Donna M. Hughes, PhD, Professor and Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island, wrote in the Oct. 20, 2004 National Review article “Women’s Wrongs” that:
“Legalization would mean the regulation of prostitution with laws regarding where, when, and how prostitution could take place. Decriminalization eliminates all laws and prohibits the state and law-enforcement officials from intervening in any prostitution-related activities or transactions, unless other laws apply.”
Prostitutes’ Education Network, in the article “Prostitution Law Reform: Defining Terms” posted on its website (accessed Feb. 12, 2007), stated:
“There is no official definition of legalized or decriminalized prostitution. Those who are not familiar with the contemporary discussion about prostitution law reform usually use the term ‘legalization’ to mean any alternative to absolute criminalization, ranging from licensing of brothels to the lack of any laws about prostitution. Most references to law reform in the media and in other contemporary contexts use the term ‘legalization’ to refer to any system that allows some prostitution. These common definitions of legalization are extremely broad. Conflicting interpretations of this term often cause confusion in a discussion of reform….
[T]he term legalization usually refers to a system of criminal regulation and government control of prostitutes…

[T]he term decriminalization… mean the removal of laws against prostitution…”

Kimberly Klinger, writer, in the Jan.-Feb. 2003 The Humanist article “Prostitution, Humanism, and a Woman’s Choice,” wrote:
“Decriminalization essentially means the removal of laws against this and other forms of sex work…

By contrast the term legalization usually refers to a system of governmental regulation of prostitutes wherein prostitutes are licensed and required to work in specific ways…. This is the practice in Nevada, the only state in the United States where brothels are legal. Although legalization can also imply a decriminalized, autonomous system of prostitution, the reality is that in most ‘legalized’ systems the police control prostitution with criminal codes. Laws regulate prostitutes’ businesses… prescribing health checks and registration of health status.”

So I would like to add some links here from Amnesty International about their policy and stance on Sex Work and the Human rights of sex workers which I think are important for you to have a read of and have an understanding of why decriminalisation is the best policy and really understand why so many sex workers and their supporters are fighting for this across the world. I will also reference a couple of my previous blog posts which I think are a good read and also have some great sources and resources from not just sex workers themselves but also those who support the human rights of sex workers.

I have personally worked under decriminalisation in New South Wales as well as Legalisation that is in Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia. And honestly out of the various laws around Australia I felt that decrim in NSW was the best policy I have seen in terms of how I can work, my personal safety and the fact that if I ever had an issue with a client I always felt safe enough to call law enforcement if required. I had the ability to work from my home if I chose to which meant I was working in the safety of home.


Some thoughts. You don’t have to like sex work. You don’t even have to agree with it. But remember sex workers can be someone in your family, they can be one of your friends or even someone you work with, they could be your neighbour or even someone you go on a date with. Sex workers who chose to do sex work do it for a number of reasons, Pay for uni, buy a house, send their kids to private school, pay of debts, there are many reasons. They are human. They are men, women, trans, gay, straight, bi-sexual and all those in between. They are human. So as humans don’t they deserve the same rights as any other workers? Don’t they deserve to have access to health services and other government services? Don’t they have the right to work safely without fear of arrest or attack? Don’t they deserve to feel valued? Its time for the stigma to stop. Its time for them to have access to the same work rights as everyone else in the community. I encourage you to read up and understand what decriminalisation means. I mean really understand it. Understand why its important. And take a minute to think about the fact that while you don’t have to agree with sex work you at least have to agree that sex workers deserve the same protection at work as you do because who knows maybe someone important to you might be a sex worker……..


Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights – Amnesty International

Q & A Policy to protect the human rights of sex workers – Amnesty International

Amnesty International – Policy on Human Rights for Sex Workers


An Open Letter – Amnesty Decriminalise Sex Work Policy

#FacesofProstitution going viral – Consider this

Decriminalisation, Legalisation, Swedish Model, #RightsNotRescue


Norway: The human cost of ‘crushing’ the market: Criminalization of sex work in Norway – Amnesty International Research

Amnesty International publishes policy and research on protection of sex workers’ rights

Sex workers at risk: A research summary on human rights abuses against sex workers – Amnesty International Research


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