So you want me to be the voice of your escort agency?

I'd rather be a voice for the women and girls who are working in an industry where they have virtually no human rights, writes Bernadette Cotter

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has hit out at Amnesty's policy, calling on the human rights organisation for a re-evaluation. Photograph: Getty Images

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has hit out at Amnesty's policy, calling on the human rights organisation for a re-evaluation. Photograph: Getty Images

 

So you want me to be the voice of your escort agency. Really?  And what exactly does the script for your 'promotional video' say?  Will it tell us about the exploitation of women in prostitution? 

Will it tell us how women are lured from third world countries, their freedom and dignity taken from them?  Will it tell us how much money the owners of agencies like yours make at the expense of their suffering?  Will it explain how women are regularly beaten by clients, get little sleep, are always expected to be 'on call?'  Will it admit that women are threatened when they try to leave? Will it tell the truth about using underage girls?  I didn’t think so.

I'd rather be a voice for the women and girls who are working in an industry where they have virtually no human rights. I would rather voice their fears, their helplessness. And I'd rather tell the world that there is a better way for them to make a living - that most of them want a better life than this. I would also rather speak about the way commodifying sex demeans not only those who work in prostitution, it also demeans the clients and their families.

But selling sex is a reality, and concern for the safety of sex workers is at the heart of Amnesty International's call for the decriminalisation of consensual sex work "including those laws that prohibit associated activities." 

However, The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has hit out at Amnesty's policy, calling on the human rights organisation for a re-evaluation. The Coalition accused Amnesty International of turning its back on women, and of "standing with the exploiters, not the exploited." 

The coalition would prefer to see a call for the decriminalisation of the prostituted, and not their exploiters. On its website, The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women goes as far as to say: "Until then, it's official: Amnesty is advocating the right to pimp, buy sex, and profit from the sale of sexual acts off the backs of women and girls everywhere."

Let's be clear about this.  People who work in the sex industry are someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's mother, brother or best friend. Their human rights are our concern, so is their dignity, their safety and their futures.  Any support for the industry that exploits them, however well intended, doesn't do them any favours ultimately.