A super-pimp’s strategy : Amnesty International
In The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Women and Men Today, Kat Banyard identifies Douglas Fox as “founder and business partner of Christony Companions – one of the UK’s largest escort agencies” (p. 140). In this April 2008 memo, Fox makes no bones about his growing influence within Amnesty International and how he plans to win them over to support « full decriminalisation » of the « market » in women – that is escort agency owners, pimps, prostitution buyers, etc.
“…we need to pursue them mercilessly and get them onside, they are really anyway they just need a little shove in the right direction…”
« Title: Report from Amnesty conference
Post by: Douglas on April 07, 2008, 08:24:09 pm
The Amnesty International AGM at Nottingham 2008.
For those who do not know I am a member of Amnesty International and an activist in the Newcastle Amnesty group who have been very supportive of my campaigns of sex workers rights. This year our Newcastle group proposed a motion to conference that Amnesty takes a position on sex workers rights.
The proposal asked that Amnesty supports the council of Europe’s proposal 1579 that member states recognises the difference between coerced and non coerced sex work and further that they involve sex workers in any decision making that effects them. The motion also asks that Amnesty supports sex workers in their fight for decriminalisation as the only way to protect sex workers from the negative effects of a criminal market that stigmatises and alienates sex workers. I used the Brussels declaration on the rights of sex workers in Europe that calls for sex workers human rights to be acknowledged to back this claim as being in line with fundamental AI principles of freedom of conscience and expression and further freedom from discrimination. I also argued the declaration of Human rights article 23 which supports the right to freedom of choice with regard to labour and freedom to form trade unions and not to be discriminated against.
All of the above in theory should not be controversial for Amnesty but Amnesty International has because of recent history had two main reasons for not be to supportive to soon, Amnesty has just had a three year controversial struggle over a proposal supporting the rights of women to have abortions. This was deemed by some in Amnesty to be Amnesty taking a pro choice stance and Amnesty was condemned by the Catholic Church and by Muslim groups. Venezuela and Ireland refused to campaign and many individual members left. It was debated once again at this conference twice and it was again deeply divisive.The Amnesty board suggested a compromise (which I voted against being pro choice) that Amnesty would support abortion under certain circumstances only but that individual members or even countries could refuse to involve themselves in campaigns. This was eventually passed. The second problem is that Amnesty has (in some ways very effectively) campaigned against violence against women. The people and one woman in particular who has headed this campaign has taken what effectively is an anti escorting stance and has quoted Melissa farley and Julie Bindel heavily in their literature. I have challenged this position and the statistics used both on the Amnesty web site and at the conference where I basically caused a rumpus at the violence against women stall. I challenged the head of the campaign with regard to her statistics and basically she could not answer.
This then briefly was the background to the Amnesty conference so I was not really very optimistic. To cut a long story short Amnesty firstly holds workshops where people can attend and the proposals are debated and amended etc. The proposals are then further debated if need be in full conference. At my workshop roughly 150 people attended. I spoke for nearly ten minutes on the proposal. The Amnesty board spoke after me arguing that because Amnesty did not have a position on escorting that they should support the 2005 declaration of the rights of sex workers in Europe and the council of Europe’s resolution 1579 but that rather than go for full support of decriminalisation that Amnesty should call for a comprehensive study by Amnesty into the issue of decriminalisation worldwide.
I objected to this amendment at the workshop but it was supported while my resolution in calling for support of decriminalisation was defeated. I roughly had the support of around a third of the working group.
The resolution was then presented to full conference later in the day and I had to speak to the full conference of roughly 5/6oo people again for about 10 minutes. The board again raised the same amendment which again I objected to as being unfriendly. The vote was taken and I lost (again however carried about a third of the hall with me). A vote was taken on the Amnesty board amendment and it was carried substantially.
So Amnesty has now declared its support for the Council of Europe’s resolution 1579 and has declared its support for the 2005 declaration of the rights of sex workers in Europe and has committed itself to a “Call for a comprehensive study into the issue of decriminalisation of escorting world wide”. I do not think that is a bad result at all.
Afterwards I was the local celebrity LOL and spoke to so many people who wanted to ask questions. It was so frustrating because having spoken to them they all said that if they had fully understood the subject then they would have voted in favour of the full resolution rather than the compromise (good though that was). If they had I think I would have won. Another similar proposal is being put before conference next year and no doubt my Newcastle branch will be drafting a similar proposal. This is a winnable campaign I believe but sex workers have to lobby Amnesty and in particular the violence against women campaign group who because of my outburst on the web site and on the stand were forced to produce a typed two page document which was photocopied and distributed on the stand giving alternative points of view,
I did speak less angrily to the violence against women group later and they were willing to open up a debate with myself and the IUSW and other sex workers to have a more balanced view re literature and on the AI web site. Lots of various local Amnesty groups would like sex workers to speak to them to explain our views and I made some good union contacts through the TUC which hopefully will allow myself and others to speak to the TUC in the N East and involve the printers union in the debate. Myself or someone else has been asked to go to Belfast to speak for sex workers rights because apparently there are proposed changes to the law there and once again no one is speaking up for sex workers or at least they are not be heard.
I spoke to the Swedish Amnesty representative and got some contacts so I will be pursuing them LOL and to the Chinese Amnesty Hong Kong group who again gave me some contacts.
Sam Ruddick (Anita Ruddicks daughter) spoke at the conference and had some interesting points. I spoke briefly to her after her speech and she has agreed to meet up with Cath or myself to discuss ideas where she may offer assistance to the union. Her speech was not supportive sadly although probably unintentionally. She focused on her campaign work against trafficking which was strong stuff and she seems to be heavily involved with anti trafficking groups. When I spoke to her I expressed my concerns over her speech and she explained her view is that the two issues of sex worker rights and stopping trafficking are (and of course they are) two separate issues but I do not think she realises that because of the media and the destructive negatively of the Julie Bindel group of supporters trafficking is now in the popular imagination synonymous with sex work. I was asked over and over and over again about fears that supporting sex workers would increase trafficking. I won them over very easily however which does show that getting the press/media on our side to give counter arguments is so important.
So to end it is sad that Amnesty has not decide to campaign for decriminalisation tomorrow and indeed it may be another year before they will come out with any positive statements but they are now committed to doing the research and perhaps Amnesty New Zealand may be very helpful in this. Getting Amnesty on side will be a huge boost to our moral and standing however so we need to pursue them mercilessly and get them on side, they are really anyway they just need a little shove in the right direction. Also some more out sex workers joining Amnesty branches may not be a bad idea.
Douglas Fox »
And here is part of what Mr. Fox has managed to install in Amnesty International’s proposed policy on prostitution:
…As noted within Amnesty International’s policy on sexwork, the organization is opposed to criminalization of all activities related to the purchase and sale of sex. Sexual desire andactivity are a fundamental human need. To criminalize those who are unable or unwilling to fulfill that need through moretraditionally recognized means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violationof the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health.
(http://fr.scribd.com/doc/202126121/Amnesty-Prostitution-Policy-document, page 5, note 2)