New York’ a group of Democratic lawmakers has introduced a new bill Monday that aims to decriminalize sex working and make it legal to engage in any consensual sale of sex.
According to the new bill, which delivers the same legislative applications in other states, like Massachusetts and Maine, states like these would dismiss prior convictions of people who were convicted due to sex work, and not be seen as a criminal any longer. Many of the supporters of the bill argue that the legislation would not change the current laws that are in place to protect sex trafficking and exploitation of minors.
Monday, at the the news conference, New York legislators and supports with Decrim NY, the coalition pushing for the bill, stresses that the legal attempts to instill harsher laws on sex work have always failed in the past, and that the overburden of the criminal justice system shouldn’t be used to prosecute adults who have agreed to the exchange.
Advocates also say that the current NYC laws have disproportionately affected women of color and members of the trans community who statistically are more vulnerable and susceptible to violence. These groups of women are also targeted by law enforcement at a higher rate.
State Sen. Julia Salazar, a sponsor of the bill, who represents Brooklyn, New York City announced Monday that, these people “having to face stigma, discrimination, and abuse in trying to advocate for their rights to be treated with dignity and to be treated like human beings.”
In the state of New York, prostitution is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. People found guilty of soliciting a prostitute could face years behind bars as well.
As of 2019, Nevada is the only U.S. state to permit some legal prostitution in several counties within the operation of brothels. However, many advocates believe this bill will only scratch the surface of the sex work situation.
According to a group called, Sanctuary for Families, which advocates for survivors of sex trafficking and domestic violence, says that decriminalization legislation will not solve anything, and would only legalize a cruel industry that would label women and young girls as, “commodities to be bought and sold.”
“It’s beyond comprehension why anyone would want to decriminalize an industry of abuse and violence which profits from the commodification of human beings,” attorney for the group wrote in an email. “We need a legislative model shown to reduce the commercial sex market, increase safety, provide services for survivors, and hold men accountable for the crimes they commit.”
“The answer is not making it legal to pimp or buy sex,” they noted. “The answer is ensuring that we respect the full equality and dignity of every human.”
A Decrim NY organizer and former sex worker,Jessica Raven, wrote a article in the New York Daily News on Monday that said, ” until safe housing and a living wage are made available to all, people who choose to sell sex to survive should be afforded laws that make their lives safer — not put them in danger.”
She added, “For us, this is a bodily autonomy issue — our bodies, our choice — but more than that, it’s an economic issue, and it’s personal.”
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