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Helpful Information: Issues regarding sex work (NSWP)

Does keeping prostitution illegal protect women or society?
Criminalizing prostitution certainly is effective at protecting those arrested for prostitution from ever having a job outside of prostitution. It is difficult enough for anyone with an arrest record to obtain employment, let alone a record for a prostitution arrest. Furthermore, prostitution has been illegal here in the US (except Nevada) since the mid-to-late 1800s, and yet it is still prevalent across the US (and around the world). Its illegal status has not protected society, but perhaps even endangered society due to resources used for prostitution and related crimes arrests being taken away from pursuing violent criminals, such as rapists, murderers, carjackers, etc. The argument that women must be arrested to protect them from the dangers of prostitution is simply disingenuous and un-American. Why would we arrest someone for something someone else may (or may not) do to them?

Wouldn't it be best to legalize and regulate prostitution?
Not in terms of the current "legal" models we have, such as Germany and Nevada. Legalization means more government bureaucracy, more laws, and more public resources used for ineffective enforcement. Furthermore, in places in which prostitution is legal, many other laws are made criminalizing everything from living off the earnings of a prostitute (which makes criminals of anyone over 18 living in a household with a prostitute- meaning children, parents, partners, etc.) to advertising for the purposes of prostitution. Anti-brothel laws are used to prosecute two or more women living or working together (often cohabitating for their own safety). And not all sex workers wish to sign a piece of paper that labels them as sex workers- many wish to work as privately as possible, which means that a significant proportion of sex workers still work in the illegal sector, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, and requiring costly enforcement of laws against them. Overwhelmingly, the enforcement of these laws has meant that people of color are disproportionately targeted.

Decriminalization seems to be the best answer for all stakeholders. We view New Zealand's legislation as the model system to which we aspire. A point-by-point break-down of what their law reform means is available here. Basically you remove prostitution from the criminal code and place health and safety regulations on it. The penalty for the crime of hiring an underage prostitute is increased for sex business operators and clients. So, in effect, it is legalized and regulated, but the regulators are not the police; rather, they are health, OSHA, and labor inspectors. And we believe that, as in New Zealand, the main stakeholders (sex workers themselves) have a place at the table when writing these regulations.

What about mandatory testing?
Mandatory testing is a false promise. Firstly, women's physiological make-up renders them far more susceptible to catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) than passing one on. A CDC report once stated that only 3% of STIs were known to be attributable to sex workers; far more prevalent were the instances among sexually active young adults between the ages of 18-25: think young people drinking heavily, and not making wise safer sex choices, versus someone who's livelihood depends on their sexual health. Furthermore, testing anyone will only ensure that at the moment of testing, the individual has no detectable STIs. But some STIs can incubate for up to 5 months without detection, so an individual may be transmitting an STI even if s/he has tested negative. Mandatory testing also lends a false sense of security to participants in the sex industry, as people may try to justify not using condoms on the basis that a sex worker has been tested and is clean. This can have devastating consequences in countries or in situations where a sex worker has little power to demand condom use either because of a gender and power imbalance, or because she may be physically threatened by someone who demands sex without a condom. Most sex workers are highly vigilant when it comes to their health in general, but particularly so when it comes to their sexual health.

  (This page is in progress)

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