Statement: Amnesty International Votes to Decriminalize Exploitation

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Statement by NCOSE Executive Director, Dawn Hawkins

Washington, DC – Amnesty International, the human rights group, voted on August 11, 2015, to adopt a policy in favor of decriminalizing prostitution. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) denounces this decision as irresponsible advocacy in favor of a system that does immense and indelible harm to women, children, and men around the world.Amnesty International claims to “campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.” Yet, decriminalization of brothel-keeping and soliciting is a gift to pimps, sex traffickers, and sex buyers that enshrines in law a right to buy and sell other human beings. Such laws do not protect the human rights of persons in prostitution, but guarentee that their dehumanization and exploitation will continue.

“Amnesty International has failed to remain true to its mission of ‘preventing and ending grave abuses.’ The types of abuse and brutality that comprise daily life in the sex trade are nothing short of torture. By voting in favor of a policy to decriminalize prostitution, Amnesty International has abandoned the victims of abuse and exploitation to the whims of pimps and sex exploiters,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE. “Today we lament that the cause of human rights for the sexual exploited has taken a giant step backwards.”

Evidence substantiates the fact that the sex trade does immense physical and emotional harm to those in it. A study by Farley et al. reports that 64% of adults in prostitution experienced threats with a weapon and 71% were physically assaulted. Another study found 50% of women prostituting outdoors and 26% of those indoors (saunas and flats) experienced violence within the past six months. It’s not surprising that in a survey of prostituted persons across nine countries 89% said they wanted to escape.

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NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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