Amnesty International’s recent proposal to enact the decriminalization of sex work across the globe has been met in some quarters with sharp and stark resistance.
The human rights group’s proposal – circulated by the Tasmanian Times – has been met with open hostility by the usual unknowledgeable do-gooders, purveyors of the poisonous ‘rescue industry‘ and people eager to jump on a bandwagon.
Ah yes. The bandwagon. In a twist that will surprise absolutely nobody, the wheels of this particularly rickety mode of social outrage transport constitute the usual cavalcade of ivory towered movie stars. That’s right, Hollywood stars – who’s adherence to and reliance on the notion of reality is spurious at the best of times – are weighing in on Amnesty’s proposal to the point where a number of these fattened calves have written directly to Amnesty’s Secretary General and Executive Director demanding the withdrawal of this latest request.
Celebrities such as Anne Hathaway, Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline (remember him?), Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson are just some of the more notable signatories on a letter that calls for sweeping criminalization of an industry they don’t work in while belittling the fantastic research and application being performed by organizations such as UNAIDS.
Amnesty are said to be reviewing the internal policy document at a meeting in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, in August. The policy – which has been written with “protecting and fulfilling the human rights of sex workers” in mind – provides a more progressive and conscionable outlook and approach to the issue than any of the above named could have mustered in their combined lifetimes.
The presence of cognitive dissonance is strong in this instance. The letter sent to Amnesty states:
“Every day, we combat male access to women’s bodies through power and control, from female genital mutilation to forced marriage; from domestic violence to violation of reproductive rights. The exchange of money for such access does not eliminate the violence women face in the sex trade …
“Amnesty’s reputation in upholding human rights for every individual would be severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters rather than with the exploited.”
The forced correlation between the barbarism of FGM, forced marriage, domestic violence to decriminalized sex work is a dangerous one. Such sweeping generalizations only serve to hinder ay meaningful dialogue and progress, and gives rise to unfounded fears of the so-called Pimp Lobby.
Every celeb signing that bullshit petition is claiming they know more about human rights than Amnesty, more about sex work than sex workers.
— ❤♡Sabine♡❤ (@ThatSabineGirl) July 28, 2015
Perhaps this is another case of the blinkered rich and famous being led into signing any old thing to look like they are doing Right By The World. Hathaway – who won an Oscar for her portrayal of a sex worker in Les Miserables – appears to seem fine with it when it suits her. Dunham – whose public relations fandangos are about as stable as a house made from wet rice – should perhaps stick to making bubbly nonsense for teenagers instead of wading into something that requires fact and research.
In a statement, Amnesty laid out the justification for their proposal, citing decriminalization of sex work as a way of seeking to eradicate “violations” of individuals and their rights.
“These violations include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, forced HIV testing and medical interventions and exclusions from healthcare, housing and other social and legal benefits,” they said, as reported by the Guardian.
“Legalisation keeps pimps, brothel keepers, and sex-slavers in freedom and riches. Criminalisation puts the prostituted in prison,” said veteran women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem.
The continued criminalization of sex work presents a multitude of risks to those who undertake it. As the Hollywood Reporter writes: “In Los Angeles, mere possession of condoms by suspected sex workers is grounds for arrest. In New York City, acts of violence committed against them are seldomly reported to police. In Papua New Guinea, workers at a brothel were viciously beaten and then publicly humiliated, paraded down the streets by local law enforcement.”
Dear Hollywood: Maybe you can also "help" sweatshop workers by criminalizing t-shirts.
— Lorelei Lee (@MissLoreleiLee) July 26, 2015
Lorelei’s point in the above tweet is a perfect example of the maddening hypocrisy of attitudes toward sex work from blinkered celebrities and the general swell of humanity. The manufactured and moralistic outrage toward sex and sex work – perpetuated by religion and a lack of education; not mutually exclusive factors either – is rampant. The office worker treated like shit by his corporate overlords, hung out to try on perks, pay and overtime, having to bow and scrape for days off, considers that “normal” work.
Sex work, says the office drone, is unnatural and demeaning. Keep on at it, pal; enjoy the unpaid overtime you’re pulling over the evenings and weekend.
It seems anyone can have a registered opinion now, regardless of how distanced they are from the actual issue at hand. The Guardian – mostly a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to progressive issues – is now running sponsored content from Anglo American – a mining company – which tries to fling historical arguments into Amnesty’s face. It seems even the heartless and faceless lobbyists won’t leave it alone either.
Of course, Anglo American aren’t to be trusted if their conduct in ownership and maintenance of mines and workers in Congo is anything to go by.
Whether or not the issue of decriminalization of sex work can be solved swiftly is something else entirely. But know this: the crux of it should not be left in the hands of Hollywood puppets, falsely liberal media outlets who pander to much the same crowd and blood-soaked mining companies.