Campaign Against Legalization of Prostitution

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Subject: Campaign Against Legalization of Prostitution
From: Donna Hughes (
Date: Thu Feb 18 1999 - 07:25:09 EST


        Campaign Against Legalization of Prostitution and
                International Labor Organization Report
        "The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases of
                  Prostitution in Southeast Asia"

                        February 17, 1999

The Norwegian Trade Union (LO) and the Women's Front of Norway have
launched a campaign against the legislation of prostitution as it is
promulgated in the ILO study "The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases
of Prostitution in Southeast Asia."

The Campaign asks for letters (sample below) to be sent to Kofi Annan,
Secretary General, United Nations, and Michael Hansenne, Director General,
International Labor Organization.


Michael Hansenne
Director General
International Labor Organization
4, route des Morillons
1211 Geneve, Sveits
Fax: 41-22-799-8533

Kofi Annan
Secretary General
United Nations
United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017, USA

Text of sample letter:

Prostitution is a deprivation of women's human rights. It is with great
concern we read the International Labor Organization (ILO) study "The Sex
Sector: The Economic and Social Bases of Prostitution in Southeast Asia."
The ILO study on prostitution forwards a not too subtle recommendation to
legalise prostitution, citing the industry as an "economic sector."
Undoubtedly, prostitution and other activities related to sexual
exploitation earn billions of dollar world-wide. In Japan alone the so
called entertainment industry brings in an amount that is nearly equivalent
to its military budget. The ILO study presumes that everybody, including
the women and children trapped in prostitution, benefit economically.

We know that the ones who least benefit economically from prostitution are
the women and children themselves, who in fact are the prime "commodities"
in this sexually exploitative and anti-women's trade. The industry may be
an economic force but who actually benefits and who actually is most harmed
in the process?

It is important to us to make our statements on prostitution clear.
Firstly, on the individual level prostitution is damaging women and
children psychologically because it is about getting your body bought and
used for other peoples satisfaction. To manage this one needs to develop
psychological defence strategies that in the end have devastating effects on
one's own sexuality and emotional life. Prostitution is also extremely
harmful because of the high risk of contracting STDs including HIV/AIDS.
Does the ILO really want "occupations" where its "workers" need a very high
degree of health services to even survive the "job?" Secondly, on the
general level, to legislate the buying and selling of women is to agree with
violence against women. We strongly oppose the United Nations body ILO
attempt to define so-called "sex work" as legitimate, thus supporting the
legalization of prostitution. What we need, this year when we mark the 50th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is an active
public policy to combat prostitution. Therefore we demand from ILO and
other UN agencies; make a clear stand against prostitution and for women's
human rights.


For further information on the ILO position and worldwide feminist
opposition to it, see the website of The Coalition Against Trafficking in

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