Open invitation to the Director of Amnesty International UK to ‘Women of Colour Against the Sex Trade’ event

15 February 2019

Dear Ms Allen,

We, the undersigned, are Women of Colour from Britain, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Holland and Australia. We are visiting London in February to take part in the ‘Women of Colour Against the Sex Trade’ event due to take place there on Thursday, February 21st. 

We write to you to invite you to come and hear us speak, as we will be discussing the harm and damage done to our communities by the global sex trade. It is hoped that by hearing us you will rethink Amnesty’s policy of 2015, which endorses the “all aspects” of the sex trade and urges governments worldwide to adopt laws and policies that endorse the full decriminalization of the sex trade, including pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sexual access, predominantly to female bodies.

One of the areas we intend to touch on will be the social devastation caused to communities of colour, and to their females in particular, by the pimping your organisation endorses. It is shocking to us that Amnesty – formerly a very trustworthy human rights organisation – now endorses pimping to the point where it declares it ought to be decriminalised, which of course means rendered legally and socially acceptable.

Pimping is not acceptable; it is decimating our communities. So-called ‘Sex Tourism,’ which is rampant in Kenya, Costa Rica, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Brazil, Haiti and other nations of colour around the globe, is a system of prostitution whereby impoverished women from the developing world are sexually exploited and used by predominantly white western men. It simply ought to be within the spirit of Amnesty’s human rights agenda to identify the blatant exploitation here, and the inevitable emotional psychological scarring, for the communities involved and also at the incalculable level of the individual.

It is our sincere hope that you will attend our event and listen with sincerity. We can promise we will be speaking in the same vein. Other topics we will be covering include the prostitution of Asian women in militarised zones, the Missing and Murdered Women’s Inquiry in Canada; the links between the historical sexual exploitation of Black women and girls in the United States during slavery and the present day overrepresentation of Black women and girls in US prostitution; the toxic cultural effect of state-sanctioned prostitution systems; exit strategies and the practical difficulties involved for women in rebuilding their lives while dogged by former prostitution convictions. 

We will be discussing all the above and many other issues besides, each of us from our personal and professional experience of our own subject matter, and we would like to extend this invite to you in the spirit of honesty and a willingness to exchange frankly. It is clear, we’re sure, that we believe Amnesty has taken a dangerously unwise turn with its ‘Resolution On State Obligations To Respect, Protect, And Fulfil The Human Rights Of Sex Workers’ but we have been convinced many times through our activism of the human capacity to change our minds, which happens usually by the process of exposure to new information. We are hopeful, of course, that is what will happen here. You are very welcome to attend this event and to meet with us privately before or afterwards.

Rosemarie Cameron (Britain)
Vednita Carter (USA)
Taina Bien-Aime (USA)
Bridget Perrier (Canada)
Ne’cole Daniels (USA)
Mickey Meji (South Africa)
Suzanne Jay (Canada)
Roella Lieveld (Netherlands)
Ally Diamond (Aus/New Zealand)

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  • "In many cases we talk about trafficking and we differentiate it from prostitution; there is a linguistic battle around this erroneous distiction. But there is a reality that no one can hide: men who pay for sex do not recognise any difference in this regard. They do not care to know anything about the woman for whom they pay, for them they are all "whores'' - and they justify their violations with that charge, and they use it to strip us of our rights. Both victims of prostitution and victims of trafficking are raped by the same men who pay for sex."
    - Alika Kinan, Cordoba, Argentina
  • "Just because dancing (stripping) is legal does not mean it’s not violence against women - Stripping and prostitution go hand in hand."
    - Vednita Carter, St Paul, USA
  • "After experiencing prostitution in most of its forms, from escorting to the streets, each time my body was bought, whether in a car or in a 5-star hotel, the degradation and shame I felt was the same. The violence and abuse was the same. I don’t believe we should live in a society where women’s bodies are for sale and prostituted promoted as 'sex work."
    - Julie Swede, Bristol, UK
  • "When I look back now I see that prostitutuion lured and consumed those of us who were already marginalised in society. If you were poor, if you were disadvantaged, if you had come from a broken home or had vulnerabilities connected to prior cycles of abuse, especially sexual abuse, prostitution was there waiting for you. Prostitution is a trap, and it’s not a coincidence that all over the world it ensnares those who are already struggling to survive."
    - Rachel Moran, Dublin, Ireland
  • "For me, sexual abuse was a direct route into prostitution. The same kind of destructive abuse chosen by myself, because I knew this feeling and recognised myself in this situation, even though the situation traumatised me over and over again."
    - Tanja Rahm, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "I was able to exit prostitution and rebuild my life, and with that my education became a tool. I was recognized for my tenacity and my strength and have been able now to be an asset to my community and to my people."
    - Bridget Perrier, Toronto, Canada
  • "Remembering friend’s I have lost along the way, and taking a glance at all the violence, rape and inhumane activities, I just can’t help but recognize my luck to alive today."
    - Mickey Meji, Cape Town, South Africa
  • "It might surprise you, but it can happen to anyone. No you’re not exempt. I wasn’t."
    - Marian Hatcher, Chicago, USA
  • "Prostitution is the systematic and institutionalized form of Non State Torture and violence primarily against women and children. In it's extreme, it is a form of femicide involving homicide, rape, torture, pornography, violent assaults and the systematic targeting of marginalized persons, but leaves no stone unturned as all societies, and all persons are impacted by the organized crime that prostitution is."
    - Jeanette Westbrook, Kentucky USA
  • "When New Zealand passed full decriminalisation, things changed in unexpected ways and I came to understand that the myths of legal protection, autonomy, increased choice and greater community acceptance were unfounded.. The myth of health being better was proved false in less than 6 months of the law reform. Women were kissing and risking herpes, doing oral sex without condoms with the risk of throat warts, doing rougher and riskier practices just to get the jobs.. I dealt with punters changing expectations. I had no choice but to fight against this model ever spreading to another country."
    - Sabrinna Valisce, Melbourne, Australia
  • "Many people ask me, how did I get into prostitution, was I “trafficked” or was I a willing participant? What many don’t understand is - however we entered - what the act of prostitution does to us; how it slowly strips us of any semblance of ourselves, as we try to sell part of our bodies, while keeping our soul intact. Prostitution preys on the most vulnerable; it takes us places we never intended to go, all driven by those who feel entitled to pay for our bodies. "
    - Cherie Jimenez, Boston, USA
Read more testimonials
"For me, sexual abuse was a direct route into prostitution. The same kind of destructive abuse chosen by myself, because I knew this feeling and recognised myself in this situation, even though the situation traumatised me over and over again."
- Tanja Rahm, Copenhagen, Denmark
Read more testimonials