Swedish Sex Workers Write Letter of Support to Amnesty

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Rose Aliance, the Swedish sex worker organisation has written a letter of support to Amnesty International. Amnesty is under intense pressure from anti-sex work campaigners for their proposals to support the call for the decriminalisation of sex work. Rose Alliance is a young organisation founded in 2009. Historically, sex workers in Sweden have found it very difficult to organise for their rights. Sex workers tell of how challenging it is to speak out about their rights as sex workers in a country that only recognises the right not to sell sex. Since the beginning of Sweden's sex worker rights movement’s in the mid-70s, the narrative on sex work has gone from bad to worse. First sex workers were described as, 'social outcasts with a history of abuse, then emotionally damaged who were unfit to be parents, passive bystanders who had bad things happening to them.'

Today sex workers in Sweden are seen as passive victims with no agency, dignity or self-respect. We can’t consent to the work we do. It is actually not seen as work at all, or even an economic activity, but as a form of self-harm that is beyond our control. When you talk about a group of people using such stigmatizing terminology for a long time, while at the same time disqualifying all other narratives as being non-representative and therefore unimportant, something in society changes. We are not valued the same as other citizens, our opinions are unimportant as we are described as lacking insight and suffering from a false consciousness. So in reality we are all seen as mentally ill or damaged. They just want us gone, one way or the other. That is at least how it feels.

Carina Hex and Pye Jakobsson of Rose Alliance writes:

To us it is very worrying that the “Swedish Model” is described as an alternative that would protect sex worker’s human rights, when it does quite the opposite. In reality it has resulted in an increased stigma that has dehumanized us and for a long time left us feeling powerless. We have witnessed our colleagues being evicted as a result of the law on procurement, sex worker losing custody of their children just because of their occupation. Sex workers are seen as incapable of making healthy decisions for themselves so obviously we cant’s care for a child. One of our board members was murdered as a result of the state taking custody of her children placing them with her violent ex-partner who later killed her. In Sweden a person with a history of violence is seen as a better parent than a sex worker. The only protection we have against prejudice from authorities is to isolate ourselves and keep sex work a secret, and we have learned through firsthand experiences that loneliness can kill.

 

Amnesty International Council is set to vote on the draft policy in the next couple of days. Nearly 10,000 people have now signed a petition set up in support of Amnesty.

You can download Rose Alliance's letter below.