Sex work is illegal almost everywhere in the United States, and that’s part of the reason it remains so dangerous. One study in San Francisco found that 82 percent of sex workers had been assaulted and 68 percent had been raped while working. Another study found that sex workers were 18 times more likely to be murdered than non-sex workers their age and race. Eighteen times.

All too often, sex workers are afraid of going to police and reporting violence, because they don’t want to get arrested themselves. No victim of violence should have to fear legal consequences from reporting a crime to the police.

Regardless of anyone’s individual feelings about sex work itself, hopefully we can all agree that reducing the risk of sex work and violence against sex workers is a worthy goal. But how do we do that? The question is more complicated than most of us realize, but an important step is understanding the difference between decriminalizing sex work and legalizing it.

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What’s the difference between Sex Work decriminalization and legalization? by Lauren Longo

March 15th, 2019