Celebrating Amnesty’s Policy; our work for rights continues

On Tuesday we at Best Practices Policy Project joined the collective cheer of sex workers and allies around the world when Amnesty International, during its International Council Meeting, voted to adopt a stance of decriminalization of sex work as a way to promote human rights. The decision came after years of research and debate at the global human rights organization–BPPP and many others encouraged Amnesty International to adopt this position. Practically, this does not change policies or laws anywhere. However, having a widely known and respected human rights group make this decision should help bolster the arguments of sex worker rights activists about the harms of criminalization. While that symbolic victory is important, the decision should also mean that Amnesty International will proactively research and publicize human rights violations against sex workers and related communities.

It is a great moment for evidence and the voices of sex workers swaying decision-makers, but we also should not pretend that this decision by Amnesty International materially changes anything on the ground for our communities around the world facing the daily harms of criminalization. The struggle to protect the rights of those most harmed by criminal laws and police abuse continues. As the anniversary of the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, reminds us, ending the violence of criminalization goes beyond eliminating laws targeting sex work. This piece of good news energizes us to keep up that long fight.