Over the objections of feminist groups, Amnesty International voted Tuesday to support a policy calling for complete decriminalization of the sex trade. The measure calls for the decriminalization of the acts of prostitution, payment for sex, and brothel ownership. The policy is focused on reducing risk for prostitutes. “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty. Unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy with the decision. Amnesty International chapters in Sweden and France preferred a policy that spares prostitutes but punishes buyers. “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,” said Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister. Amnesty International will not promote the policy globally, but plans to present the measure to their national chapters for them to take up lobbying on the local level if they so choose. For sex workers facing substantial risk this decision may encourage governments to begin providing some measure of legal protection.
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