Amnesty International’s Policy on the 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.


It is crucial for governments worldwide to acknowledge and take action towards decriminalizing sex work. Decriminalization is supported by Amnesty International and provides sex workers with the same human rights as any other worker, such as safe work environments, protection from law enforcement, access to health, and reduced stigma. This also means that they have access to the same government services, health services, and workers’ compensation as any other worker. Decriminalization can help prevent a number of problems, including mental, emotional, and financial problems that sex workers may face due to stigma and criminalization.

Another important aspect of decriminalization is that it can help combat sex trafficking by distinguishing between consenting sex workers and those who are victims or perpetrators of sex trafficking. Decriminalization can prevent consenting sex workers from being accused and prosecuted as pimps or being considered victims when they are not. This distinction can aid in identifying and providing support to actual victims of sex trafficking.

It is essential to understand the difference between decriminalization, legalization, and criminalization of sex work and clients. While decriminalization has been shown to be the best policy, not everyone understands the differences and may believe that legalization is a better policy without fully comprehending the implications of each policy. More education and understanding of decriminalization are needed to support the protection and rights of sex workers.


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.”

I would like to share some resources from Amnesty International that explain their stance on sex work and the human rights of sex workers. It’s important to understand why decriminalisation is the best policy and why many sex workers and their allies are advocating for it worldwide. Additionally, I recommend reading some of my previous blog posts on this topic, which offer insights and resources from both sex workers and human rights supporters.

Personally, I have worked under both decriminalisation and legalisation in various parts of Australia. In my experience, decriminalisation in New South Wales offered the best policy for sex workers in terms of personal safety, work flexibility, and access to law enforcement if needed. I had the option to work from home, which made it a safer work environment.

It’s important to acknowledge that sex workers are human beings who deserve the same rights as any other worker. They may be people in your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even people you go on dates with. While you may not agree with or support sex work, it’s crucial to recognize that sex workers have different reasons for engaging in this work, such as paying for university, buying a house, or supporting their families. They are diverse individuals with different gender identities and sexual orientations.

Therefore, it’s time to end the stigma against sex workers and give them access to the same work rights and protections as any other worker. This includes the right to access healthcare and government services and work safely without fear of arrest or attack. I encourage you to educate yourself on what decriminalisation means, why it’s essential, and why sex workers deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else in society. It’s possible that someone close to you could be a sex worker, so let’s treat them with dignity and respect.

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


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *