After a well-publicized international debate, the delegates from Amnesty International voted on Tuesday to support a policy that calls for decriminalization of the sex trade, including prostitution, payment for sex and brothel ownership. Amnesty International has been the focused of a determined and passionate lobby campaign by celebrities opposing the move. However, the majority still found that criminalization contributes to the abuse of women and girls around the world.
The vote was taken by 400 members from 60 countries. They heard for a host of Hollywood stars and luminaries like Jimmy Carter calling for the group to reject the proposal and “stay true to its mission.”
The group spent two years studying the impact of criminalization in comparing jurisdictions with legal and illegal sex trades. It found that those jurisdictions criminalizing the sex trade had a higher incidence of arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, and physical and sexual violence. With the vote, the group will now join other groups seeking decriminalization in lobbying governments and politicians. Libertarians and others support decriminalization as a matter of individual choice so long as the trade involves consenting adults. They argue that it is easier to regulate the industry in places like Nevada where it is legal.
Others argue to shifting the most severe penalties of the “johns” but keeping the trade illegal to prevent the abuse of young girls and women.
Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, insisted that the concept of choice for women in the trade is a “myth.”
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