You might know Amnesty International as just one of those charities that you’ll see out in town, the ones who try to stop you to talk about what they do, but often we walk on by saying how busy we are and that we aren’t interested. Well, it seems that there is a new reason to take notice of what they are doing, as they have started the #PledgeDecrim campaign.
It’s a campaign that has pricked the ears of everyone in the Escort Scotland office up, and we are heartily applauding the fact that they are not only recognising that sex work is real work, but they also believe decriminalisation is the way to make it safer. Finally someone is taking notice!
Of course, with the #PledgeDecrim campaign comes the haters, the ones who believe that a woman “selling their soul” for a bit of cash is wrong and must be stopped. These people are the ones who have probably never had a conversation with a sex worker before, and so don’t realise that those in the industry, both men and women, aren’t selling their souls to devil… as much as they might think they are.
Now there is a battle going on between Amnesty International and a huge host of people who believe that #PledgeDecrim is the wrong move to make. We take a look at the celebrities getting behind the motion and those who are fighting against it.
The English Collective of Prostitutes has been campaigning for the decriminalisation of sex work since 1975, but it has only been in recent years that they are starting to be heard. After all, someone standing in the street with a sign saying “Decriminalise sex work for safety’s sake” can be forgotten, but thousands of people taking to Twitter to #PledgeDecrim is harder to ignore.
It helps that Amnesty International, the non-governmental organisation with a focus on human rights, are backing this issue. At their 32nd International Council Meeting they issues their own draft policy of sex work and just how it should be tackled.
They recognised that sex workers don’t really have human rights. After all, how many people are there talking for sex workers, prostitutes, and porn stars, telling them that they are selling their bodies and being oppressed by men? So many believe that sex workers need rescuing, and Amnesty International and the English Collective of Prostitutes are saying that enough is enough.
So that is how the #PledgeDecrim campaign was born! They want us to “decriminalise sex work for safety’s sake” and tell us that decriminalisation would have a huge range of benefits. They state that it would “increase safety”, “enhance health”, “provide legal recognition”, as well as “help end the hypocritical stigma attached to sex work”.
Of course, we can’t have people wanting to decriminalise sex work, can we? Sex work is wrong, right? After all, those in the industry have all been forced in, they have been abused as children, and they have no other choice for work. At least, that is what the stigma suggests, and unfortunately there are plenty of people who are fighting back against the #PledgeDecrim campaign.
Those living in Hollywood clearly know better than we do. After all, we are only the sex workers, clients, and people who work with them. How would we know better about this? We don’t, and so of course we need to be listening to the celebrities living happily in the lap of luxury in Hollywood as they watched ‘Pretty Woman’ on repeat and believe that is how the industry is.
Over the years, Hollywood and Amnesty International have gotten along well. They have been the best of friends, working towards the same causes and using celebrity faces to further their agenda. However, with this latest campaign, the celebs are turning against them.
The roster of celebrities fighting back against this is impressive, with actors such as Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Emily Blunt, Kevin Kline, and of course Anne Hathaway telling us that decriminalisation is the wrong move to make as we would be “legalising pimping”.
We need to remember that these actors and actresses know better than we do. So what if we have spent enough time talking to sex workers to know what they want? So what if we have sex workers like Laura Lee telling us what it is really like in the industry? These celebrities know better. They have played prostitutes in films, where they have all needed to be saved by men, and even won awards for their portrayal, so they know better!
The Coalition Against Trafficking In Women (CATW) are also supporting the celebrities in this, stating that Amnesty International would “in effect advocate the legalisation of pimping, brothel owning and sex buying”, and they believe that the Nordic model is the best way forward, because we’ve all seen how effective it has been in Sweden, right?
What are the facts?
As part of the #PledgeDecrim campaign, the English Collective of Prostitutes have created a handy page telling us the truth about the common myths surrounding sex work. One of the big myths they address is the Swedish law, calling out those who say that it “has been shown to be effective in reducing demand for sexual exploitation”, telling us that “there is no evidence that trafficking, rape and other violence has decreased in Sweden” and that, actually, “recent research shows that sex workers face increased stigma and are more vulnerable to violence”. Does that mean that the celebrities who have no idea about sex work but believe that the Nordic model is the way forward are wrong? Weird!
As for those believing that decriminalisation would “legalise trafficking and pimping”, they addressed that too. They talked about the random statistic that someone has dreamt up, where it is believed that 80% of women in the sex industry are being controlled by traffickers. They quote a study that says “less than 6% of sex workers are trafficked”. That’s a hell of a lot smaller than the 80% people are claiming!
However, one of the biggest myths they are fighting back against is the one that decriminalisation does not work on any level. The #PledgeDecrim website points out that many ignore New Zealand, which decriminalised sex work in 2003. They state that “the law removed prostitution from the criminal law, allowed people to work together collectively, and distinguished between violence and consenting sex”. They also stated that “a comprehensive five-year government review found: no increase in prostitution, no increase in trafficking; drug users treated as patients not criminals; sex workers were “more able to report violence” and leave prostitution if they chose”. So those saying decriminalisation doesn’t work? We call bullshit.
Now they are asking us to pledge our support for the #PledgeDecrim campaign, to “decriminalise sex work for safety’s sake”, and to take the fight to the mainstream. After all, it’s harder to avoid the issue when it is staring you in the face on social media!
Have you already pledged decriminalisation, are you out there spreading the word, or do you agree with the celebrities that sex work being decriminalised would lead to more trouble? You can let us know whatever your answer by leaving a comment in the box below, or by heading over to the Escort Scotland forum. We’ve pledged decrim… have you?
Since then she has gained a fine reputation with her blogs on sex advice, sexual health and amusing news stories from around the globe. She is also a campaigner for the rights of sex workers from all over the world.
In her spare time, Lara keeps herself active by going running, and is something of a film buff. She also loves to go travelling.