On Monday, roughly five months after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that declared the killing of unborn babies up to the moment of birth a “fundamental right,” legislators in the far-left state introduced the country’s first bill that would essentially make “sex work” a right within the state.
Dubbed the Stop Violence in the Sex Trade Acts, the bill would specifically decriminalize the purchasing and selling of sex for the primary purpose of stopping sex-work-related violence.
— Melissa Gira Grant (@melissagira) June 10, 2019
“We only want to live, be free and be safe,” TS Candii, a former sex worker and decriminalization activist who began prostituting at the age of 13, said at a press conference in Manhattan.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for like 30 years,” Cecilia Gentili, another former sex worker and decriminalization activist, said enthusiastically at the presser. “I have been in Rikers Island, and it’s not an experience I would wish on an enemy, not even my worst enemy.”
“Criminalization of sex work kills my community. Criminalization of sex work stains our records so that we cannot access employment otherwise.”
According to BuzzFeed, the bill would repeal “most misdemeanor charges related to prostitution — including promotion charges, which opponents sometimes refer to as ‘pimping.'”
“Legislators told BuzzFeed News the decision to repeal the promotion charge is necessary to ensure that sex workers are not criminalized for supporting one another,” the outlet reported Monday.
The bill would also allow those convicted of purchasing or selling sex to “apply for criminal record relief.” What the bill would not do is repeal any of the sex offenses involving minors. Or at least not yet (some of the left’s rhetoric suggests they may one day attempt this).
“When we talk about decriminalization, we’re talking about consenting adults,” state Sen. Julia Salazar, the bill’s lead sponsor, said to BuzzFeed. “Anything that involved children or coercion are things that we feel very strongly need to remain in the penal code.”
Salazar is a proud socialist who rose to prominence last year alongside other dubious figures such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Today @JuliaCarmel__ & @DickGottfried introduced
Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act NYS bill A8230/S6419 to decriminalize sex work. None of this would have been possible without decades of activism & sacrifice by Black & Latinx sex workers, @VOCALNewYork @MaketheRoadNY & others
— Exploitation Intervention Project (@eipnyc) June 10, 2019
Salazar’s co-sponsor, state Sen. Jessica Ramos, added that the purpose of the bill is to stop violence.
“This entire conversation really happens under the banner of reducing violence,” she said. “We don’t want sex workers to experience violence at the hands of customers, or the police, or anybody.”
According to a survey conducted by the Urban Institute in 2014, “15 percent of pimps admitted to using violence against their employees at some point, but that number is likely low.”
Not everybody is an enthusiastic about this bill.
Sanctuary for Families, a group that offers services to sex trafficking victims, believes that only the selling of sex should be decriminalized — and that the actions of pimps (people who manage the selling of sex) and Johns (people who purchase sex) should remain illegal.
“Prostitution causes severe long-term psychological and physical harm,” the group’s executive director, former New York City court judge Judy Kluger, said to the Associated Press. “We are better than this.”
“I don’t believe that it’s inevitable,” Sanctuary for Families employee Ane Mathieson added, referencing the the decriminalization and perhaps even legalization of prostitution. “And if we want to be advocating for a more just world, I don’t believe we should be advocating for that industry.”
Some on social media appear to agree:
Um, what?? Even promotion will be legal?
Good lord this is a sex trafficker’s/pimp’s dream. 🙄 https://t.co/7LPDX0sBdg
— Shea #FightForWynonna (@Eat_Work_Run) June 10, 2019
New York has gone bat-shit crazy!
— DH (@drparker76) June 11, 2019
To legalize sex workers occupation is to take another step down the “end of morality” rabbit hole that this country began in the 1960’s. What has become of a standard of decency when we make exploitation and selling of one’s body decent work?
— scot carpenter (@scot1966) June 11, 2019
This would free politicians from getting in trouble. Way to go. Never mind what message we send to the world. And most important we disgraced are forefathers who founded this country on Godly principles.
— William (@William79255621) June 10, 2019
The #Leftists running #NewYork care more about legalizing drugs, gambling, prostitution and late term abortion than lowering taxes, creating jobs and fixing urban education. Insane. Wake up NY – Sex Work May Become Legal in NY https://t.co/jNNDOKQNa3 @nydems
— Tom Basile (@Tom_Basile) June 11, 2019
Democrats are simply wrong again. Legalizing prostitution won’t help, it will only INCREASE human trafficking as Nevada demonstrates. “New York Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Fully Decriminalize Sex Work” https://t.co/Izjohv87cp
— Livingston County Conservative Party (@LivingstonCtyCP) June 11, 2019
Sex Work Would Be Broadly Legal in New York Under New Bill Introduced Monday https://t.co/oWg8IEj3t9 via @nbcnewyork,who would want to bring their children up under Democrat rule,That everything goes! The Democrats if elected will turn this country into drugs,sex+what ever
— Bostic18 (@YogiBear537) June 10, 2019
Conversely, libertarians argue that sex work should be totally legalized because, one, it’s the oldest profession, and two, keeping it illegal won’t stop it from occurring.
By decriminalizing and/or legalizing it, however, the government could regulate it and ensure that every prostitute is a willing sex worker versus a trafficked victim or child.
“Some customers and pimps are violent. Some women are forced into the sex trade. But prostitutes who want that trade legalized say legality would reduce violence and sex trafficking by bringing victims out of the shadows,” Reason magazine notes.
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