New York State politicians have just introduced legislation to decriminalize sex work, which would make it legal for consenting adults to buy and sell sex.
“Every worker in New York and beyond has an inherent right to a safe workplace environment no matter what work they do. We are here to affirm sex work is work,” explained Democratic Senator Jessica Ramos.
“When we talk about decriminalization, we’re talking about consenting adults,” Julia Salazar, a Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, . “Anything that involved children or coercion are things that we feel very strongly need to remain in the penal code.”
“New York criminalizes adults for trading sex for resources, but falls short in addressing root causes. Instead, we subject sex workers, and the people who live and work with them, to state violence,” added activist and former sex worker Jessica Raven. “Criminal records make it harder for people in the sex trades to access resources such as housing, services and other employment.”
The legislation is different from what other states have passed.
"We distinguish this model from legalization models like we’ve seen in Nevada and Amsterdam, where those who are most marginalized, such as people who don’t have documentation or are experiencing homelessness, are excluded by strict legal requirements that empower owners and managers over workers themselves," Raven said.
Existing statutes that pertain to trafficking, exploitation of minors, and coercion in the sex trades will not be affected if the bill is passed. The law will protect anyone over 18 who takes part in a consensual exchange of services.
“We want to bring sex workers out of the shadows,” . “When we decriminalize sex work, we will be taking a giant leap towards ending sex trafficking. We know that by giving sex workers agency, humanity, and acknowledging their existence, we’re empowering them to report violence against them. This is why we chose the decimrinaltzion model and not the models seen around the world. We want sex workers to support each other. … Every worker has an inherent right to a safe workplace, and we are here to affirm today that sex work is work.”