On 31 July, legislation designed to counter human trafficking came into force across England and Wales, following campaigning by charity Christian Action Research & Education (CARE). The Modern Slavery Act, which was given Royal Assent by the Queen earlier this year, is the first piece of anti-slavery legislation for nearly 200 years.
Research from the London School of Economics has discovered that ‘countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported inflows of human trafficking’. But, in a shock move, Amnesty International has signalled that it may advocate the decriminalisation of prostitution.
A proposal by the organisation to support decriminalising ‘sex work’ is being considered by its members. The proposal outlines a policy that seeks to protect the ‘human rights of sex workers, through measures that include the decriminalisation of sex work’.
The Christian Institute reports that a petition against the proposal has already been signed by more than 4500 people, including actresses Anne Hathaway, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.
The petitioners are ‘deeply troubled by Amnesty’s proposal to adopt a policy that calls for the decriminalisation of pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex’. The petition adds that Amnesty’s reputation would be ‘severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters’.
In June, a former prostitute who suffered horrific physical and mental abuse for 25 years told of her successful work to help young girls escape the sex industry. Brenda Myers-Powell spoke to the BBC World Service’s Outlook programme about her devastating experiences, and how her life was turned around after a desperate prayer to God. She has started a foundation, which works with young women to prevent them from entering the sex industry and helps those who are already trapped to escape.