Decriminalize Sex Work in New York
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In a study done in Chicago, 30% of exotic dancers and 24% of street based sex workers who were raped reported the perpetrator as a member of the police force.
In a New York study, 17% of sex workers reported they had been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped by police.
The rate of assault against sex workers is 40 times higher in the United States than in the UK, where commercial sex is not criminalized.
In Norway, the rate of assault against sex workers increased by 50% after the purchase of sex was criminalized.
Sex worker rights are human rights. The criminal status of sex work is not a question of morality or ideology, it is a question of the safety, protection, and rights of marginalized people. Criminalizing consensual sex work between adults harms not only consenting sex workers, but victims of sex trafficking as well.
Criminalizing sex work makes it more difficult for sex workers who are being trafficked, exploited, or otherwise assaulted to seek help, for fear of being further victimized by the criminal justice system.
What purpose then does it serve? When a sex worker is prosecuted and convicted of prostitution, it becomes exponentially more difficult to leave the commercial sex industry because of the barriers to entering into the workforce for people with a criminal record. If a person is unable to find work and support themselves after a prostitution conviction, sex work is often the only other viable option.
When sex workers are regarded as criminals it harms those who engage in sex work as consenting adults and those who are victims of sex trafficking by rendering them unable to seek help when they are abused, as well as limiting their ability to leave the industry.
It is time to decriminalize sex work and grant sex workers their right to human decency and a safe work environment.
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