New Bill Decriminalising Sex Work In New York To Be Introduced In State Senate This Week
A New York state senator is set to introduce a bill calling for the partial decriminalisation of sex work, in an attempt to provide better support for victims of sex trafficking.
The bill, which is expected to be introduced this week by Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger, was created with the input of former sex workers and survivors of sex trafficking, and is primarily intended to protect vulnerable people forced into sex work either through trafficking or for economic reasons from being further harmed by the authorities.
If passed, the bill would protect all sex workers, trafficked or otherwise, from prosecution, but would keep buying or pimping out sex workers illegal. The bill would also expunge all historical convictions related to prostitution and so-called ‘kerb-crawling,’ and would also call for crimes committed by sex trafficking survivors to be removed from the record.
Cristian Eduardo, a sex trafficking survivor and activist who helped create the bill, told the New York Post:
This bill was created by listening and believing [in] survivors, that is what the amazing part of this is. In other spaces, a lot of times survivors of the sex trade, survivors of human trafficking, survivors of prostitution, they are not listened to… we need a rite of change in the criminal justice system and how to achieve that in a policy way is by listening to survivors.
This partial decriminalisation of sex work is based on the ‘equality model’ – a more limited approach to regulating sex work compared to full decriminalisation, which some claim would make it harder to prevent sex trafficking. Another bill advocating for full decriminalisation of the sex work industry was introduced to the State Senate in 2019. The new bill seeks to decriminalize people in sex work while still keeping buying sex, sex trafficking and brothel owning illegal.
A 2018 report found that decriminalising prostitution and other forms of sex work was associated with low rates of violence and disease experienced by sex workers. The research, conducted over a period of 28 years, found that sex workers subjected to repressive policing were three times more likely to suffer violence by buyers and partners, while those not subject to repressive policing were more likely to practice safe sex and less at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Advocates for full decriminalisation also argue that legal options for buying sex would eliminate the need for exploitative brothels and other forms of sex trafficking, and would mean that victims of sex trafficking would be protected by the authorities, although some research has suggested legalisation could reduce the ability of law enforcement to investigate sex-traffickers.
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