Open Letter to Amnesty International
By the survivors of the Help Collective for Sexually Exploited Women
(Collectif d’Aide aux Femmes Exploitées Sexuellement – CAFES) of QUÉBEC
« We have believed in your will to make this world a better, fairer world, a world that respects and promotes the rights of all human beings, not just those of men. You have disappointed many men, as well as a great number of women. We are shocked to realize that you are defending, subtly and hypocritically, the “rights” of pimps and exploiters, accepting thereby the selling and marketing of vulnerable women and children.
Large sums of money received by some sex trade advocates suggest that you are endorsing this trade for the same reason they are, money. Money trumping human rights. Is this really the case? Have you really fallen this low? The policy you have adopted regarding prostitution raises serious doubts about your true ambitions, motivations and values.
What are we to make of your support for and wish to fully decriminalize a prostitution that is as profitable as it is murderous, from our position of having nearly been swallowed by this industry, and of living daily with the sequelae that its violence and trauma left in us? What should we think of you who ignore our words and the existence of those of us who are silenced because of the very violence of this industry? To ignore us and to disregard the studies and meta-studies that clearly demonstrate how the rights of many women and children are violated in prostitution is a severe mistake on your part. In endorsing prostitution, you have lost all credibility.
Your pro sex-work discourse and your justifications in using it are absurd and repugnant to those who, after having bought them from industry spokespersons, “chose” prostitution and almost lost their life to it. They are just as unacceptable to the people who actually care for human rights and defend them. Although you are adamant about wishing to avoid this industry’s victimization of anyone, you ignore the words of those who have escaped it and know that regulating violence is impossible. You will not succeed in eliminating trafficking and abuse of people caught in the industry by defending those who exploit them, but you pretend to believe you can so as not to lose your generous donors. This attitude is unworthy of an organization that deems itself a human rights advocate.
Several of us have put faith in your discourse and have tried to benefit from the sex industry. Our multi-fold experience has brought us to acknowledge that it was impossible to regulate it so that its products-humans are respected. As long as you continue to maintain that it is possible to manage a business in which humans are the main product, we will continue to report your position and call on people to boycott you. »
Written by Marie-Josée Michaud and Rose Sullivan, survivors who “chose” prostitution, campaigned for its full decriminalization, and then changed their minds before the evidence and horror.
Translation by Martin Dufresne (and many thanks to Pam R. too!)
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