Earlier this week, the Central Arkansas Harm Reduction Group promoted their efforts to decriminalize prostitution by hanging posters and holding signs.
While the group also helps those with drug addictions by providing free Narcan, they’re also handing out free HIV tests and condoms to those they call sex workers. People can anonymously text a tip line and request whatever supplies they need.
The project was founded two years ago by Clay Casper and she said it’s near and dear to her heart because she’s a feminist and personally knows people struggling with both lifestyles.
“People who are relying on trading sex to survive, make money, pay their bills, do whatever they’re doing, we just believe that they’re humans and they deserve dignity and basic human rights,” said Casper.
She questioned that if prostitution is going to happen anyway, why not help where they can.
“I can’t stop sex work from happening, I can’t shut down the sex industry as one person, so that’s not something I’m going to attempt to do because it’s impossible,” she said. “What I’m going to try to do is I’m going to try to provide some resources that can help right now in the moment.”
On the complete opposite side of this issue, a five-year “survivor” and now employee at Partners Against Trafficking Humans told KATV own Little Rock that there are different ways to help these women whom she only sees universally as slaves without consent.
“It’s very good of them to make it aware, but as far as promoting it and making it OK is a big difference,” said Kayla Smith. “What we do at PATH is more so promoting taking it away and helping them utilize those resources to help them get back to a normal lifestyle where they can function on their own and move forward with a normal life outside of being in the streets and someone controlling them.”
PATH’s executive director, Louise Allison, added promoting sex work is not the way to make a difference because no woman could ever actually consent to sex work — they’re all just brainwashed children who need us to tell them what to do.
“The reality of it is that they are stuck in this lifestyle and they’re being manipulated and lied to believe that what they’re doing is their choice and it’s not their choice.”
Casper told KATV they’re mostly funded by donations, but also receive funds from other national groups pushing to decriminalize prostitution.