Amnesty International's bid to legalise prostitution draws flak from celebrities

Anne Hathaway is one of the many celebrities who got upset by reports that Amnesty International is considering to legalise prostitution.(Wikimedia Commons)

Human rights group Amnesty International has long received strong support from celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, U2 and Jon Stewart because of its efforts to fight human rights abuse and defend those who have been victimised by it.

But now that the non-government organisation is pushing for the legalisation of prostitution, that strong support has turned into an angry voice of protest.

According to Fox 411, Amnesty International is considering a new policy that will call for the global decriminalisation of sex trafficking. This did not sit well for its celebrity supporters. They have joined 400 other individuals in the signing of a letter from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) denouncing a proposed Amnesty International policy "that calls for the decriminalisation of pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex — the pillars of a $99 billion global sex industry."

Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of CATW, believes it would be a very wrong move to legalise prostitution because it would leave those working in the industry even more vulnerable than they are right now.

"A prominent human rights organisation like Amnesty should be listening to the sex trade victims, women's rights groups and imploring them to not decriminalise the pimps, the brothel owners, and the sex buyers," Bien-Aimé said.

For its part, Amnesty International has taken into consideration what CATW and its celebrity supporters have said and its top officials are now reconsidering their stance on the matter.

"Amnesty International has not made a decision yet on this issue. It is important to stress that given that the consultation process is still ongoing, no decisions have been made," Amnesty's Deputy Executive Director Cammie Croft said. "No policy has been adopted by Amnesty International and it is not possible to speculate about the eventual outcome of the vote."

However, Croft believes something must be done about the sex trade industry because its workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world. What Amnesty International wants is to provide these workers with human rights benefits, including health care, housing services, and all sorts of social and legal protection.