The Lancet endorses Amnesty International proposal to decriminalize consensual sex between adults
A prestigious medical journal has declared that criminalizing the sex trade elevates the risk of HIV transmission.
The Lancet also reported that criminalization heightens the level of violence and abuse against sex workers from clients, police, and the public.
Moreover, the publication stated that decriminalization "would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33-46% of HIV infections in the next decade".
"Such a move would also reduce mistreatment of sex workers and increase their access to human rights."
This is why the Lancet supports a draft resolution by Amnesty International to oppose the criminalization of the sale of sex between consenting adults.
The policy is being discussed at the human-rights group's international council meeting in Dublin, which continues until Tuesday (August 11).
"This policy does not change Amnesty International's longstanding position that trafficking into forced prostitution should be criminalised as a matter of international law," the proposed policy states. "Amnesty International considers children involved in commercial sex acts to be victims of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law."
Amnesty International has come under fire for its proposal from antihuman-trafficking groups and Hollywood celebrities, including Meryl Street, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Winslet.
Another critic, actor and writer Lena Dunham, clarified her views in some recent tweets.
In another tweet, Dunham cited an article by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, an influential advocate against human trafficking.
Kristoff has come under criticism from author and activist Laura Agustin, who argues that the "rescue industry" has a colonial mentality.
Meanwhile, the Lancet stated that it's common to conflate sex work with trafficking.
The medical journal noted that this "ignores the evidence and clouds the issue of safety for sex workers—female, male, or transgender adults who exchange consensual sex for money and choose their profession without coercion".
The Lancet acknowledged that trafficking in sex workers does occur and it's "a gross violation of human rights that needs carefully designed interventions".
"Evidence also suggests that criminalisation of sex work does not reduce trafficking," it stated.
Canada's Conservative government has criminalized the sale of sex between consenting adults, causing an uproar among those who make their living in this industry.
Last month, the cabinet minister who introduced the legislation, Peter MacKay, joined Vancouver South Conservative MP Wai Young in Vancouver to announce $88,000 in federal funding for the Salvation Army's Deborah's Gate program "to help victims of human trafficking reintegrate into our society".
It's part of Ottawa's $500,000 annual spending commitment on "Canada's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking".
Vancouver is where a serial killer, Robert "Willie" Pickton, preyed on survival sex workers for years before finally being arrested in 2002. He was convicted in 2007 on six charges of first-degree murder. The Crown later stayed charges of murder in connection with the deaths of 20 other women.
Evidence was entered in court that Pickton allegedly bragged in jail about killing 49 women.
During the recent televised federal leaders' debate, nobody mentioned the government's decision to criminalize the sale of sex or the potential impact that this could have on sex workers and HIV transmission rates across Canada.
Aug 8, 2015 at 11:13am
Glad to see Lena Dunham has clarified her views, at least somewhat. One problem with Bill C-36 is the extremely broad and vague meaning of "those who profit off others." If that simply meant those who force people into prostitution or keep them there against their will through a variety of forms of coercion, most of us would have no argument. But the legislation can be applied to people who employ sex workers (massage parlour and club owners) without such coercion, or to people who are employed by sex workers themselves as part of their business (drivers, receptionists, security, etc.) and even to their spouses/partners. This is a crucial distinction, especially in countries such as Canada. It's also true that conditions are very different from country to country. In my opinion, Bill C-36 has nothing to do with "ending prostitution." It is a legislative gimmick to make it appear that the Conservatives are "doing something," while in reality making sex work more dangerous for those who really do need help the most. Good on Amnesty and The Lancet for advancing a thoughtful, well researched position.
Aug 8, 2015 at 3:56pm
Most workers in the world work because they have no other choice. Why women should be given special treatment is beyond me. You do what you've got to do.
Aug 8, 2015 at 9:35pm
It would be a nice fantasy if all men would wake up one day and say, "you know, prostitution objectifies women, and I will control my sexual urges. I would rather not have sex than have to buy it." But it would still be a fantasy.
Men (on average) have no reason to control their sexual urges. To the point that buying sex objectifies women they might reply that they are objectified and belittled every day at work, and say that if you want to get rid of prostitution the best way to avoid female objectification is to cease making sex a transaction.
Barry William Teske
Aug 9, 2015 at 6:25am
Why is it so hard for some to understand that every now and again the price of croissants must be negotiated?
Facts of life.
This time reality chooses real butter.
Aug 9, 2015 at 10:31am
Work is prostitution; the arbitrary divide between sex work and other more dangerous forms of work is rooted in sexual immaturity; as though it is OK to work constructing a mining tailings pond (far more aggregate risk to more people than with prostitution) but not OK to sell a bit of in-out.
Why shouldn't men want to buy sex? Because you don't want to buy sex? You might as well say "men should not want to buy logs" or "men should not want to buy concrete." After all, we only have logs and concrete due to prostitution, that is, work.
Aug 9, 2015 at 2:57pm
There is compassion in seeking solutions for those sufferers reduced having to live (or thinking they have to live) by the sex trade ... However, its part of the bigger dysfunction in our planetary society and re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic does nothing to stop the ship from going down.
"Be the change you want to see in the World" and when enough people do so, we will find the critical mass to save the ship.