An Op/Ed by Kaytlin Bailey, director of communications for Decriminalize Sex Work, published Jan. 10 in the Orange County Register of all places —
Politicians across the country have declared a war on human trafficking, but the tactics police departments are deploying aren’t catching the real criminals. Instead, they’re tearing apart families, terrorizing communities and ruining lives.
Sex workers and survivors of human trafficking are asking for legislation that will make all of us safer. We are advocating for the full decriminalization of commercial sex work between consenting adults.
Decriminalization removes criminal penalties for adults who engage in consensual sex in exchange for money or something of value.
Decriminalization, as opposed to legalization, does not create new regulations, while maintaining existing laws against public indecency, violence and trafficking.
Decriminalization does not encourage rape, trafficking, domestic violence or kidnapping, but it does improve health and safety by taking the oldest profession out of the black market. Rhode Island decriminalized indoor prostitution between 2003 and 2009. According to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, this contributed to a 30 percent decline of reported rapes against women and a 40 percent reduction of female gonorrhea cases.
But sex work remains the subject of negative media and law enforcement attention.