Amnesty votes to back decriminalising sex trade

Dublin: Amnesty International today voted in favour of adopting a policy supporting the decriminalisation of prostitution in the face of intense criticism over the highly controversial move.

The decision was taken at the human rights group’s International Council Meeting (ICM) in Dublin by a majority of the 400 delegates from 70 countries.

But the organisation would not give a breakdown of the votes.

While Amnesty hopes the move will help protect the human rights of sex workers, critics say the organisation, set up in London in 1961, risks losing credibility.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called it a “historic day”.

“Sex workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” he said after the vote.

“It was not a decision that was reached easily or quickly and we thank all our members from around the world, as well as all the many groups we consulted.”

Amnesty also wants to see the decriminalisation of third parties involved in prostitution, such as pimps and brothel operators, alongside sex workers themselves.

Ahead of the vote, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) penned an open letter saying that Amnesty’s name would be “severely tarnished” if it approved the policy.

The open letter was signed by women’s rights groups, doctors and stars including Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson.