In late May 2016, Amnesty International published a devastating and gloomy report on the sex purchase law in Norway: The Human Cost of “Crushing” the Market. They spent two years finalizing the report, which is founded on in-depth surveys and interviews of a wide range of people: sex workers, lawyers, organizations, the police and academics.
The verdict over the sex purchase law is as clear as it is devastating: The law is dangerous. It brutally breaches with several human rights. The law must be reversed, and sex work must be decriminalized. These findings are supported by WHO, UNAIDS and The Lancet, among others.
How will the government and parliament react to this report? Will they passively watch as this law crushes the most basic of human rights? Are they really turning their backs on this? Will they let moralizing arguments undermine sex workers’ security, lives and health? Come on, tell me what you intend to do to mitigate the damage this law has done! Begin by confirming the reversal of the sex purchase law!
A piece of good advice: look to New Zealand where the decriminalization of sex work has functioned very well since 2002! Five years after the law reform, came the following conclusion: The sex industry has not increased in size, and many of the social evils predicted by some who opposed the decriminalisation of the sex industry have not been experienced. On the whole, the PRA has been effective in achieving its purpose, and the Committee is confident that the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off under the PRA than they were previously.
A fundamental reform must obviously take place. Politicians must realize that the law is a scandal, and actually admit to this. It is apparent that something must be done, and we need political action now!
- Amnesty International urges the Norwegian authorities to change the approach to the commercial sex market. The protection of human rights of all persons who sell sex must be the highest.
- Amnesty International urges the Norwegian authorities to conduct a legal reform that decriminalizes sex work between consenting adults and ensuring people who sell sex necessary protection against exploitation in accordance with international human rights standards.
- Amnesty urges the Norwegian authorities to draw up a white paper that contains a clear political recommendation on the creation of one legal regime embodying the human rights of persons who sell sex in Norway, and that can ensure the financing of an interdisciplinary and long-term research project that can provide research-based knowledge about the living conditions for sex workers in Norway.
- Amnesty International recommends that the forthcoming national action plan against human trafficking clearly distinguishes between sex work between consenting adults and trafficking for exploitation of prostitution based on coercion and violence.
Norwegian authorities must ensure that actions to combat trafficking will not cause the human rights of vulnerable groups to be breached, especially the human rights of victims of trafficking, persons who sell sex, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Amnesty also asks that the police immediately cease the use of “stress methods” against people who sell sex in Norway.
- The report on sex workers living in Norway is part of a series of research reports where Amnesty International has documented human rights abuses such as sex workers experience in four countries. The reports also look at how laws sex work and law enforcement affect sex worker’s human rights.