Theology of the Body Thursday #29: Sex Work is a Human Right?


I tend to follow what is happening with Amnesty International because I dedicated so many hours to the organization when I was in  high school and college. I ceased to be a dues-paying, card-carrying member when they added abortion to their list of “human rights,” but I will still send off a letter or an email from time to time when they ask me to if the cause is right. The founders of Amnesty International were active Catholic lay-people. They founded it to help free political prisoners. I’m sure they have been rolling in their graves for quite some time, no less so in recent days as sex work has recently been added to Amnesty’s ever growing list of “human rights.”

In his encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, St. John Paul II echoes Vatican II in listing prostitution right along side abortion and euthanasia as an intrinsic evil. I have often quoted John Paul II, saying the opposite of love is use. This is no less true when the used party agrees to the arrangement and is paid. Paid use is still use.


Sociologists have long questioned how much actual free-will the prostitute has to agree to the arrangement. Many prostitutes are coerced into the business by pimps. Most of them prostitute themselves to pay for a drug habit or a pressing financial need like supporting their families.

Perhaps the most disgusting thing about this is, however, the reasoning Amnesty is using. They have cited the “right” of a disabled person to get a prostitute as one reason for the legalization of prostitution. How demeaning is that to disabled people? We know the disabled person can’t find love and, hey, they have “needs,” so, Amnesty argues, we need to legalize this profession that demeans women to really demean disabled people and their natural, human need for companionship. So, this in insulting on two levels:

  1. It implies that disabled people are inherently undesirable for companionship.
  2. It also implies that sex is the only way to fulfill the universal human need for intimacy.


Amnesty International is ignoring the reality of women in prostitution as well as showing a serious lack of compassion and love for women and those who are dealing with disabilities.


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