top of page
An Open Letter to Amnesty International USA:  Informed Consent is No Match for Coercion

By David H. Nguyen, Ph.D.

Cancer InCytes Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2015

Published December 11th, 2015



Amnesty International USA recently issued a statement supporting the decriminalization of buying sex. Their reasoning is that this will allow sex workers to unionize and to be better able to protect themselves; otherwise, sex work will be driven underground into unsafe situations. First of all, let’s consider that sex work has always had a large underground component. Also, the testimonies of the majority of former sex workers repeatedly state that they were tricked, forced, or coerced into the sex industry – or prevented from leaving. Based on their experience, legalizing prostitution serves to protect abusive pimps and buyers. The majority of women who enter the sex trade start as teenagers – likely in their mid-teens – but those who enter as adults may find it difficult to escape once they become the property of a violent or manipulative pimp. While there are adult women who choose to do sex work out of necessity or convenience – and these women should be protected by good policies – we as a society must curb the unintended consequence of spikes in trafficked children into the sex industry.


Former sex workers admit that where there is adult prostitution, there is child sex trafficking. The fact that Germany, which legalized prostitution and subsequently experienced a spike in human trafficking, needed to ban bestiality because of too many animal deaths due to extreme sexual practices should give us warning about the ramifications of our social policies. People aren’t born with a desire to have sex with animals (it makes no – or extremely little – evolutionary sense). So, how many children had to be abused before the men who need to rape a dog to death no longer felt the same rush when abusing children? We need to think deeply about this while we debate and decide how to best help society, not just the women and children who are enslaved. 


In this issue of Cancer InCytes Magazine (Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2015), we publish a series of open letters from survivors of sex trafficking written to Amnesty International USA: “Trafficking Survivor Letters to Amnesty International USA.” Led by Ne’cole Moore, Founding Director of Survivors on The Move, this letter project offers constructive criticism of Amnesty International USA’s well-meaning, but shortsighted stance on the legalization of prostitution.


Even in the case of adult women who choose to sell their bodies out of economic necessity, should we as a society resign to the status quo and perpetuate its oppressive nature? Or should we seek to create avenues of escaping poverty through continuing education, vocational training, and job placement?


The greatness of humanity is not found in what we can do to bring gain to ourselves, but what we can do – and what we choose not to do – so that others can flourish. It’s not just “free will” that inspires us to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others and that restores our hope in each other; it’s the aspects of “free won’t” in those stories that elevate us. We have primal desires that are strong and beautiful, but it’s our ability to moderate them that keeps them from becoming destructive and hideous.





David H. Nguyen, Ph.D.


Cancer InCytes Magazine

5% off liquor/wine/beer baskets. Use coupon code: CIM5

Save 10% on strollers and ErgoBaby carriers. Discount code: SAVE10

Purchase survivor-made clothing and apparel.

bottom of page