The Human Rights group Amnesty International has taken a hugely contentious decision to back worldwide decriminalisation of prostitution.
The group took the decision after a vote at their biennial International Council Meeting, held in Dublin on August 11.
The group argues that decriminalisation would take away the stigma associated with the trade, and lead to a more streamlined way of dealing with its real dangers. Opponents argue that decriminalisation would lead to more human trafficking.
Amnesty International now joins a host of other groups in their support for decriminalisation, including the World Health Organisation, the United Nations AIDS programme UNAIDS, and leading medical journal The Lancet.
The decision was taken “based on the human rights principle that consensual s*xual conduct between adults is entitled to protection from state interference” so long as violence or child abuse or other illegal behaviour isn’t involved.
Amnesty and other pro-decriminalisation groups see the stigma and criminalisation that surrounds prostitution as roadblocks to stopping abuse, trafficking and the spread of diseases like HIV and AIDS.
Opponents include several women’s rights groups, as well as prominent actresses such as Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, and more. They believe decriminalisation would benefit nobody but the pimps who force women into the trade.
They wrote an open letter to the group prior to the vote, urging them not to go down that path as it “flies in the face of [Amnesty International’s] historical reputation.”
So both sides say their position is based on protecting the human rights of the prostitutes. So who is RIGHT?