Our position is that criminal sanctions relating to consenting adult sexual activity should be lifted. This includes sexual activities that take place as part of a commercial arrangement. No new crimes should be introduced targeting either sex workers or their clients. This position reflects the evidence-based approach of Amnesty International, developed as a result of careful deliberation about the human rights of individuals who choose to engage in sex work. It also reflects the real interests of sex workers as described by the position of the English Collective of Prostitutes
The terms of reference ‘Whether criminal sanction in relation to prostitution should continue to fall more heavily on those who sell sex, rather than those who buy it’ assumes, without good evidence, that there is any appropriate role for criminal law for regulating sexual activity between consenting adults.
We contest this assumption on the simple basis that sex workers are, in fact, human beings capable of as much choice and agency as anyone else. They are not typically ‘forced’ into their line of work anymore than anyone else is compelled by material circumstances to seek employment. While such choices may sometimes reflect an economically insecure position (just as working longer hours or accepting harsher conditions in other sectors may reflect such a position), reducing demand for sex work will not improve that economic position.
The full submission can be read at Parliament’s website.