August 11, 2015
Dear Amnesty Delegates,
We write to you as the members of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's
Shelter, a collective of front-line anti violence workers and
feminists and Canada's first rape crisis centre. Since 1973 we have
responded to over 40,000 women escaping male violence. We work toward
women's liberation globally and to end all forms of male violence
against women, including prostitution.
We strongly urge you to retract the resolution on "sex work" that was
voted in this morning, August 11th, 2015. We are extremely alarmed by
the disregard of mounting criticism by feminists, survivors of
prostitution, anti-violence workers, abolitionists and other allies in
the fight for women's liberation.
Amnesty International's decision to support the decriminalization of
all aspects of prostitution promotes the subordination of women and
legitimizes the buying and selling of women and girls. As you already
know, the majority of those sold into prostitution globally are women
and girls, and women of colour, Aboriginal women, and women living in
poverty are grossly overrepresented. Those who are responsible for the
buying, selling and trafficking of women are overwhelmingly men. This
fact alone reflects the stark power imbalance between men and women
that this industry flourishes and thrives on.
Amnesty International's insistence that it "considers human
trafficking abhorrent in all its forms" while promoting the
decriminalization of pimps and johns displays a refusal to recognize
the reality that the male demand for women's bodies fuels the global
trafficking of women.
As an organization that claims to promote the human rights of
marginalized people globally, you are making a grave mistake. This
decision is harmful to women in prostitution and promotes the power
and impunity of pimps and johns to continue their war on women and girls.
The decision to call for the decriminalization of men who buy and sell
women supports and encourages a capitalist multi-billion dollar
industry that is inherently patriarchal, colonial, classist, and
racist. In adopting this resolution, Amnesty International will help
legitimize the exploitation and abuse of women and girls worldwide.
The Collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada