This is a letter I received from the United Nations on why they are backing the decriminalisation of prostitution.
Thank you for your email messages and for your engagement in this important global challenge: how can the world reduce human rights violations while improving health outcomes in the context of sex work?
Let me start by underlining that efforts to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking are critical to both protect human rights and to advance the AIDS response. To these ends, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) supports the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
We see as crucial, efforts focused on the identification and criminal prosecution of individuals and criminal networks that exploit and abuse sex workers through force, deception or fraud. This includes people who procure clients for sex workers (called “pimps” in some places) and people who run brothels. People who suffer trafficking or sexual exploitation should benefit from protective measures and should have full access to health and other needed services, as well as support to rebuild their lives. UNAIDS affirms the right of any person to leave sex work and to have meaningful access to options of employment other than sex work. UNAIDS also affirms the right of all children to be protected from sexual exploitation and trafficking and urges all States to meet their obligations to protect children.
As sex workers bear a disproportionate burden of HIV (globally, female sex workers are 13.5 times more likely to be living with HIV than women in the general population), UNAIDS has engaged in extensive consultations and research with sex workers and other stakeholders over the past several years to identify and support effective, evidence-informed and rights-based responses to reduce HIV vulnerability among sex workers.
Data shows that HIV infection rates are reduced when sex workers are able to: organize themselves within their communities; protect themselves from violence, force and exploitation (including from brothel-owners, procurers, clients and police); demand safer sex from their clients; and have access to health information, services and commodities.
UNAIDS is not advocating for the decriminalization of pimping or brothel ownership. Evidence indicates that criminalization of sex work can make it difficult for sex workers to protect themselves from HIV, violence and/or exploitation. Criminalization has the unintended consequence of compelling sex workers into hiding and into dangerous situations, where sex workers may experience abuse by clients, pimps and police. Furthermore, criminalization can also heighten stigma and discrimination towards sex workers. Many sex workers report that they cannot carry condoms or access HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services because of fear of arrest and prosecution. Sex workers who have experienced abuse and violence have said they are not able to bring these human rights violations to the police and authorities because they fear arrest and prosecution. Many jailed sex workers suffer violence, as well as increased vulnerability to HIV, tuberculosis and Hepatitis C.
In the 2011 United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, UN Member States called on countries to review “laws and policies that adversely affect the successful, effective and equitable delivery of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes to people living with and affected by HIV.”
For these reasons, UNAIDS, WHO, UNFPA and the Global Network of Sex Worker Projects have called on all countries to:
▪ Work towards decriminalizing sex work and the elimination of the unjust application of laws and regulations against sex workers
▪ Establish anti-discrimination and other rights-respecting laws to protect sex workers against discrimination, violence, and other human rights violations
▪ Put in place laws and regulations that guarantee sex workers’ rights to social, health and financial services
▪ Make health services available, accessible and acceptable to sex workers based on the principles of non-discrimination and the right to health
UNAIDS welcomes a continuing dialogue on these complex issues.
This was my short response on facebook –
Just received this – please if you care about the prostituted class in any way, make it solid that we must have abolition, or at the least the Nordic Approach, not decriminalisation of the sex trade.
This is terrifying and will place all the prostituted in grave danger. Please support abolition.
And my long reply to the United Nations –
It appears you are more concern with keeping the status quo of the sex trade – that allow unacceptable amounts of rapes, sexual torturing and murders of all the prostituted. This is mainly because by making prostitution normal – it gives full reign to male violence and hate to all the prostituted.
You are using the spread of HIV as a stalking horse to bring about the legalisation of prostitution. This is disgusting, and does nothing for the safety and human rights of the prostituted – it just is seen as an inconvenient for the punters and the sex trade profiteers.
It is almost impossible for most prostitute to make a punter wear protection – when he believe he own her completely, and will use violence to get his way. Also, most sex trade profiteers encourage non-protection for more money.
Not using condoms is common in an environment of desperation and violence – and many prostitutes if not the majority have extreme self-hatred where they cannot care about their sexual, mental or physical welfare.
I cannot believe you would even consider that sex trade profiteers should not be made criminals – they are usually facilitating mass rape, allowing physical, mental and sexual torturing on their premises, may be internally and/or externally women and girls into prostitution, allowing under-aged prostitution, and often murder the prostitutes who they consider to be their goods. How can that not be criminal – only if you view the prostituted as not human so not deserving of human rights.
I find you have abandoned the prostituted in favour of the status quo of the sex trade. You are throwing us away, and there is great grief, fury and despair from many exited women that you have so little compassion or empathy for the prostituted class.
Please do not throw us away – yours faithfully, Rebecca Mott