“The feedback we got from our members and other organisations we consulted made us wish for a policy where one would evaluate the effect of criminalization,” Patricia Kaatee, a policy adviser for Amnesty Norway, told VG newspaper.
“We think that one should only go in for decriminalisation where research indicates it is necessary to protect sex workers' rights.”
Amnesty International's resolution has been widely condemned in Norway, with the new political party Feminist Initiative in Oslo branding Tuesday “a sad day”, and Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, from the Christian Democrat party describing the decision as “totally wrong”,
“Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world, who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement announcing the decision on Tuesday.
“We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex,” he added.
A swathe of Hollywood celebrities joined in a campaign in the days before the Amnesty vote to stop the resolution going through, including Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet.
John Peder Egenæs, Amnesty's Secretary General in Norway, said that now the country division had been outvoted by delegates from many of Amnesty's 69 other branches, it would swing behind the decision.
“The organisation as a whole believes that decriminalization is the best solution, and we stand behind this,” he said. “There is a element of disagreement here, but the current decision is not too far from our starting point.”
Norway, along with Sweden, Iceland, Canada, and Northern Ireland, has made it illegal to purchase sex but not illegal to sell it in an attempt to reduce prostitution by lessening demand without criminalising sex workers.
An independent report commission by the Norwegian government from the social science consultancy Vista Analysis estimated last August that bringing in its sex purchase law had reduced prostitution by about 25 percent, but put sex workers at a greater risk of violence.