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Amnesty International Is Adrift.

India, June 27 -- Like a ship without its engines and also without its compass, Amnesty International is adrift in the vast sea of meaninglessness and incoherence. At the end of May 2016 this organization, which was formerly known for its championship of the downtrodden and the marginalized, announced the launch of its international campaign to 'decriminalize' all 'sex work'. The blog published on May 26 started out with a platitude: "Sex workers are daughters, mothers, sisters and wives. They are husbands, fathers, sons and brothers." Well, that about covers the whole of humanity, doesn't it? So what else is new? The sentence continues with another inanity: "And every day they are at terrifying risk [ sic] of a whole host of human rights abuses."

The blog is not even juvenile in its composition and message. It is simply puerile, if anything. The blog claims that Amnesty International "carried out extensive research. The developing of this policy took more than two and a half years and included a careful review of academic and UN agency substantive evidence from around the world and international human rights standards; as well as Amnesty offices across the globe consulting with their members, external agencies and hundreds of sex workers." In spite of this highly exaggerated claim, the report does not contain any convincing reasons for its demand that all [so-called] sex work should be 'decriminalized'. Why does Amnesty International not call the business what it really is - prostitution? The blog states that "In Scotland sex work is often described as violence against women. And it is sadly true that the majority - but not all - of those who sell sex across the world are women and that many of those who sell sex have often experienced multiple forms of discrimination and disadvantage." But the blog goes on to say that "Where we differ is when this diagnosis leads to a prescription of criminalization of sex work. Our research concludes that criminalization of sex work contributes significantly to denial and abuse of human rights of those who sell sex." What a weird twist in logic. Amnesty has got involved in a dangerous contradiction here. It might as well claim that the criminalization of theft and robbery denies the thieves and robbers of their human right to survive on the fruits of their labour.

The blog and the more detailed Report does not provide any cogent reason to substantiate the claim that "The call for the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work [emphasis added] is based on extensive evidence of the daily harm that criminalization causes." The Report gives only anecdotal evidence of sex workers who have been beaten by their clients or who have been robbed of their money. In one such anecdotal evidence, the robbery was not connected in any way with the so-called "consensual adult sex work." It was a case of robbery and violence unrelated to the "consensual sex" which the woman had provided to her client. Moreover, by what kind of twisted logic can Amnesty International claim that a " consensual adult sex act" for which the woman received payment amounted to rape?

Amnesty International has now entered into the ephemeral world of meaninglessness where nothing is right and nothing is wrong. Right and wrong are only determined by the subjective assertion of the individual. What might be right for one person might be wrong for another. So what role does any government have in determining what is right and what is wrong?

Amnesty International has got itself into an inextricable twist. On the one hand it claims that criminalization deprives sex workers of their right to make a living from selling themselves for a price; on the other hand Amnesty demands that governments should criminalize child labour, sexual exploitation (what is this?) and human trafficking.

The unenviable corner into which Amnesty International has got itself is clearly evident in the concluding part of its blog where it asserts that "Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals. . . They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International." Quod erat demonstrandum.

(The writer can be contacted at: )

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.

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Publication:Indian Currents
Date:Jun 27, 2016
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