• TOLD YOU! Amnesty International Votes for Policy Calling for Decriminal

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    PARIS — After days of emotional debates and intense lobbying,
    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.

    The vote came on the last day of a biennial meeting in Dublin of
    about 400 members of the human rights organization from 60
    countries. They had gathered to set the group’s future policies.

    The proposal about prostitution provoked an aggressive lobbying
    campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and
    pimps from penalties. Competing petitions were organized by
    women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy
    Carter, who issued a letter on Monday — appealing to the group
    to maintain penalties for buyers and to “stay true to its

    With the vote, Amnesty International’s 12-member board will now
    hammer out the final draft of a policy that the group will use
    to lobby governments to repeal most laws that forbid the sale
    and purchase of sex. The group’s resolution called for a policy
    that “supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of
    consensual sex work.”

    “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the
    world who in most instances face constant risk of
    discrimination, violence and abuse,” Salil Shetty, the secretary
    general of the organization, said in a statement after the vote.

    The proposal split human rights activists. Amnesty chapters in
    Sweden and France pressed the group to support a so-called
    Swedish or Nordic model, now followed in several Scandinavian
    countries, that spares prostitutes from penalties but sanctions
    the buyers with heavy fines and prison terms. Lawmakers in
    France are pushing new legislation to punish buyers that most
    likely will be voted on in the fall.

    After the vote, the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution,
    a French organization, vowed that it would no longer work with
    Amnesty International. “Amnesty chooses impunity for pimps and
    johns and not protection from sexual abuse for all women,” the
    coalition’s executive director, Grégoire Théry, said.

    Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, said she was
    concerned about the effect of Amnesty’s new policy because it is
    a respected organization.

    “They mixed all these arguments, and that worries me,” she said.
    “It is a myth about the happy prostitute who does this as a free
    choice. Unfortunately, I can now hear people saying ‘hurrah’ —
    all those johns and pimps who run the brothels. It’s a
    multibillion-euro industry.”

    Amnesty will give its national chapters leeway to decide whether
    to support or lobby for decriminalization.

    “There are no plans to have a major campaign with a focus on
    this,” said Sarah Beamish, a board member who will help draft
    the final policy over the next few months. “It’s really up to
    each section to take this issue up on the local level. There are
    no plans for a global focus.”

    Although the vote was taken openly among the delegates, the
    meeting was closed and the vote count was kept confidential. Ms.
    Beamish said the resolution had passed “comfortably.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/world/europe/amnesty- international-votes-for-policy-calling-for-decriminalization-of- prostitution.html?_r=0

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