Sex workers tell Lena Dunham, other celebs to STFU about shit they don’t understand

In News by Jamie Peck / July 30, 2015

To the great joy of sex workers’ rights advocates everywhere, Amnesty International is drafting a policy that would recommend decriminalizing all aspects of consensual sex work. This draft policy comes as the result of a two-year consultation that included four studies commissioned by an internal working group that concluded this to be the best way to protect the human rights of those in the sex industry. The proposal stresses that it does not change Amnesty’s “longstanding position that trafficking into forced prostitution should be criminalized as a matter of international law” and emphasizes that “states must take all appropriate measures to prevent [the] exploitation of children.”

Unfortunately, experts like Anne Hathaway, Lena Dunham and Kate Winslet have conducted some very scientific studies of their own and concluded that sex work should not be decriminalized, so they’ve co-signed their famous names to a letter being circulated by abolitionist groups (i.e. groups who think all sex work should be illegal and make no distinction between consensual sex work and trafficking.) Because nothing qualifies you to comment on the actual, contemporary sex trade like playing a fictional 19th century prostitute.

Quoth the letter:

We firmly believe and agree with Amnesty that human beings bought and sold in the sex trade, who are
mostly women, must not be criminalized in any jurisdiction and that their human rights must be respected and
protected to the fullest extent. We also agree that, with the exception of a few countries, governments and
law enforcement grievously violate prostituted individuals’ human rights. However, what your “Draft Policy
on Sex Work” is incomprehensibly proposing is the wholesale decriminalization of the sex industry, which in
effect legalizes pimping, brothel owning and sex buying

It goes on to quote some misleading, cherry picked statistics that “show” decriminalization of sex work increases sex trafficking. It also uses the phrase “gender apartheid,” which is fun. (Never mind that there are plenty of non-female people in the sex trade.)

Sex workers and their allies have been quick to respond to this nonsense, maintaining that criminalizing any aspect of the industry only makes it harder for them to protect themselves against violence, disease, and extreme exploitation, and that Lena Dunham and friends should probably keep their mouths shut about issues they know nothing about. Here are some of their tweets. Unlike the people who wrote this letter, I know they’re fully capable of speaking for themselves:

But don’t worry, guys. Lena Dunham, at the very least, is getting schooled on the subject by her sister Grace, who seems to be a bit more knowledgeable on the subject (and most subjects) than her:

If you’d like to show your support of sex workers around the world by clicking a button, you can sign the Change.org petition here.

[h/t Jezebel | Photo via Popsugar]