Sex Workers Legal in Nyc

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Full decriminalization has compelling benefits. Sex workers could unionize. Third-party workers, such as those operating phone lines or customer screening agents, could work without fear of being prosecuted as pimps, creating a safer workplace. Once decriminalized, increased demand from buyers would give sex workers more bargaining power. A 2007 study in New Zealand showed that after full decriminalization, nearly 65% of sex workers found it easier to turn away clients, and 57% reported an improvement in police attitudes toward sex workers. Molly Simmons, a representative of SWOP Brooklyn, a New York-based sex worker rights organization, called Vance`s statement “a hollow step toward the decriminalization of sex work that our communities are fighting for.” In a strange twist, the first bill to take a libertarian, liberal approach to sex work is supported by left-wing groups like the Democratic Socialists of America. Groups of sex trafficking survivors, moderate politicians, and prosecutors have largely supported the more cautious and regulated approach. I think the proponents of both laws want what`s best for sex workers. But the first approach — a blanket decriminalization of consensual sex trafficking, including pimps and johns — could make sex workers less safe, not more. When police interactions involve so much constant violence, especially for trans women of color, the level of incomplete decriminalization on the table is inadequate. The New York Times, which reported Vance`s announcement, said the DA “will continue to fight those who exploit or profit from prostitution without punishing those who have borne the weight of law enforcement attention for decades.” Such a conclusion reveals a profound ignorance of how so-called Nordic models – in which only buyers of sexual services or third parties are criminalized – continue to harm sex workers.

To force them into the shadows and lure their relatives and collaborators into the system of injustice in prison. And it bears repeating: those who are interested in ending the exploitation of workers should consider fighting capitalism, not workers. Sex work is not always good or safe work; It can be used as a means of survival. But so are many workplaces, where workers are nonetheless seen as worthy of legal rights and protection, rather than being police officers. Two years ago, progressive legislators in New York introduced the kind of comprehensive decriminalization legislation we need; The bills languished in Albany and are now competing with proposed new laws that instead push for a flawed Nordic model reflected in Vance`s new policies. Sex work is still not completely legal in the district. Instead, the office will focus its efforts on tracking those who buy sexual services, rather than those who sell them. Proponents of sex work have long argued that this type of sex work law enforcement model threatens workers` rights and safety because it always encourages law enforcement to interfere in their affairs. Nevertheless, the plea for complete decriminalization has been combined with huge and growing support from the left for the abolition of the police. Leftists and sex worker groups have adopted the abortion rights slogan “My Body, My Choice” and adapted it to the freedom of sex workers to do what they want with their bodies. Under the slogan “Sex work is work,” the DSA sees complete decriminalization as a “central struggle for the labor movement and for socialist feminism.” There is evidence that arrests of sex workers in New York City may decrease on their own.

The NYPD cites a general decline in prostitution-related arrests (including of buyers and pimps, as well as workers) in recent years. Arrests increased from 1,069 in 2019 to 193 in 2021. In an emailed statement, an NYPD spokesperson told me, “The NYPD`s law enforcement priorities changed in early 2017 and continued, resulting in fewer arrests of sex workers for prostitution in recent years and a greater proportion of arrests of those who buy sex and promote sex for sale.” We must recognise that large numbers of prostituted people are victims of human trafficking, and we must not legitimise an industry that thrives on the exploitation and abuse of LGTBQI women, girls and people. Under the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol, ratified by the United States and Sweden, we have an obligation under international law to respond to the demand for prostitution. A 2015 study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that decriminalizing sex work would have the greatest effect of policy change in reducing HIV transmission, preventing up to 46% of HIV infections over the next decade by allowing sex workers to access health care and negotiate protection with clients. While removing previous prostitution convictions and refusing to prosecute those arrested for selling sex shows simply doesn`t go far enough, says Dr. Jill McCracken, co-director of SWOP Behind Bars, a sex worker advocacy group. In fact, some data suggests that in countries where the sale of sexual services has been decriminalized but the purchase of sexual services has not been criminalized – a model known as the “Nordic model” – the sex industry is driven underground, making it difficult for workers to control clients who are afraid of being arrested.

As a result, marginalized people are at increased risk. “If our goal is to make it safer for all people in general, victims of human trafficking and consenting workers, then persecuting people looking for sex workers makes it even less safe. It pushes sex work into the shadows, it discourages people from coming forward. It basically says it`s an illegal act that should be criminalized and perpetuates all the stigma,” McCracken said. No one denies that sex workers face serious and ongoing risks of violence and that the status quo is unsustainable and unjust. Because sex work is illegal in every state except Nevada, sex workers — who are at high risk of violence from clients, pimps, and police — typically have no way to organize for better health and safety or report violence without risking a burden. But even if “sex work is work,” sex trafficking cannot be treated like any other service industry because most service industries are not inextricably linked to violence and organized crime. Any law that decriminalizes sex workers must collectively address consensual and non-consensual sex trafficking and prioritize the needs of the poor.

Violence against sex workers can be reduced while protecting victims of human trafficking, forced labour or exploitation. Partial decriminalization would achieve this goal. By refusing to prosecute cases of prostitution, New York City has joined other cities like Baltimore, which have made similar announcements as a result of ongoing discussions on decriminalizing sex work and criminal justice reform. (Other counties, such as Queens, have also announced that they will deny the prostitution allegations.) And many sex workers` rights advocates applauded the postponement. “I think it`s great! Stopping arrests will have a huge and immediate impact on sex workers struggling to survive under criminalization,” said Kaytlin Bailey, sex worker advocate and host of the Oldest Profession podcast. “Of course, it`s just a first step, but it`s a good step.” With the end of the persecution of prostitution, however, the AD is taking some direction to reverse the historically damaging taxonomies of innocence and guilt in sex work. In February, when New York finally repealed the harmful anti-loitering law known as “Walking while Trans,” the governor did.