Nordic Model Australia Coalition (NorMAC) director, Simone Watson, today expressed dismay at Amnesty International’s decision to support decriminalisation of the sex trade.
‘Amnesty’s International Council Meeting (ICM) voted to advocate for the decriminalisation of prostitution despite significant opposition both within and outside the organisation’, said Ms Watson.
‘Most Amnesty members worldwide were shut out of the decision making process. They received limited information about the policy and were not given the opportunity to consider alternative policy positions. The decision to support decriminalisation seems to have been already made by the Amnesty executive prior to the ICM’.
Amnesty also failed to properly consult with survivors of prostitution, despite invitations to do so from several survivor groups.
‘NorMAC stands alongside those groups in their condemnation of Amnesty’s decision’, said Ms Watson.
‘We also support the stand taken by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) in opposition to Amnesty’s decriminalisation proposal. Many of our members signed CATW International’s recent open letter to Amnesty expressing their concern’.
Where a decriminalised legislative regime has been adopted, the legal sex trade has expanded but the illegal sex trade has grown even more.
‘Governments do not have the resources to properly monitor the sex trade’, said Ms Watson. ‘Illegal operators move in and set up business. Their workers have no rights, and no-one knows how many of them are trafficked or under age’.
NorMAC advocates for the Nordic Model approach to sex industry legislation where those selling sex are shielded from prosecution and assisted to exit the industry, and those buying sex or procuring the purchase of sex are criminalised.
The laws were first introduced in Sweden in 1999 as part of a legislative package – the Women’s Peace/Security/Freedom Act (Kvinnofrid) – designed to address all forms of violence against women.
Nordic Model laws have been adopted in several jurisdictions including Norway, Iceland, South Korea, Northern Ireland and Canada, and are being considered in many others.
‘We are confident Amnesty’s poorly considered decision will not affect the continued expansion of Nordic Model laws’, said Ms Watson.
‘Real human rights will prevail’, she said.