Decriminalizing sex work isn’t something you hear much about from legislators. But on February 25, New York State Senators Julia Salazar and Jessica Ramos published an op-ed calling for the decriminalization of sex work in New York. Senators Salazar and Ramos made a comprehensive case for decriminalization, writing:

Criminalization does not address why people trade sex, because most people trade sex out of economic need: to pay bills, make rent, and put food on the table. People often turn to sex work after a life event such as a major health-care bill leaves them economically vulnerable. LGBTQ, black and brown, immigrant and disabled communities engage in sex work at higher rates because they are locked out of jobs in the formal economy.

Criminalization encourages rampant abuses by law enforcement. An estimated 94% of peoplearrested for the loitering for the purposes of prostitution in Brooklyn and Queens are black women. Police so often use the statute to target trans people, including individuals who aren’t trading sex, that Legal Aid filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Criminalization exposes people to exploitation. Prostitution records take people’s choices away, and when people have no choice but to trade sex to survive, they are more likely to be trafficked.

LGBTQ youth, who often run away from home seeking acceptance, trade sex at seven to eight times the rate of other youth in New York City. Young people trading sex for housing and resources is a crisis — no one wants them to be doing so. But entangling them in the criminal justice system does not stop them. We need more youth services, healthcare and housing that affirm their LGBTQ identities — not policing — so young people don’t have to trade sex for survival.

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DecrimNY – The fight to decriminalize Sex Work in New York by Millennial Politics Team

March 21st, 2019