by M.G. Dante – originally published on Sex Workers Outreach Project-Philly website

Realizing I do not need the New York Times to publish my thoughts to share them:

I don’t feel I –  as a former  homeless teen, and a woman who has  engaged in what is defined as commercial sex  –  should be forced to have my life narrative defined by others.  Amnesty International’s decision to support decriminalization is not about calcifying dominant male entitlement to purchase sex from victimized slaves, or misogynistic capitalism. It is about generating necessary international dialogue on the authentic differences between sex trafficking and sex work.

I can’t find  quantifiable proof that Germany has sex tourists pouring in, sexually defiling 450,000 girls and women per day. Or that New Zealand has forced  women to endure more for less. Or that Sweden truly defines the way for all continents and countries to  proceed, especially considering cultural dynamics in places that are more diverse and economically dynamic. As a Caucasian woman from the West, it may not be my place to select the fate of women abroad,  from the East or Global South. However I do believe I have a right to appeal to my government – and  governments  around the world – to discuss the authentic needs of their women. Because I am a woman, and because I was a homeless youth. Because I worked my way off the streets via the sex industry. Yes.  I have been exploited.  I have also been empowered.

And I have a right to be part of the international dialogue, as opposed to having my journey defined by others. Our stories may be similar, but our perspectives  distinctly different.