from the swipe-card-here dept.
A Washington, D.C. city councilmember has introduced a bill that would decriminalize prostitution:
D.C. Councilmember David Grosso is behind a bill that would decriminalize prostitution, arguing it's in keeping with his advocacy for human rights and marginalized communities. "We basically criminalize too many activities," Grosso argued in a recent news conference. "It is time for the District of Columbia to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex work, and move from one of criminalization to a focus on human rights, health and safety."
Grosso says he worked with the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition, and followed recommendations from a variety of human rights organizations from around the world as he drafted the bill. "The bill is quite simple, really," argues Grosso. "It repeals a number of laws or parts of laws that criminalize adults for exchanging consensual sex for money or other things of value." "By removing criminal penalties for those in the sex trade, we can bring people out of the shadows, help them lead safer and healthier lives, and more easily tackle the complaints we hear from communities about trash or other nuisances."
If passed, D.C. would become the only city in the U.S. to decriminalize prostitution:
While prostitution has been legal in some parts of Nevada in the form of brothels for more than a century, what's often called "the world's oldest profession" remains criminalized in the rest of the United States. An effort to decriminalize prostitution via referendum in San Francisco failed in 2008, after heavy criticism from city officials at the time. Kamala Harris, then the city's district attorney and now a rising star senator, said the measure "would put a welcome mat out for pimps and prostitutes to come on into San Francisco."
But in the near decade since then, there's been a shift in perspective alongside a growing international movement further popularizing the policy change that sheds stigma in favor of pragmatism. The idea is that if sex workers don't fear arrest, they'll be able to access healthcare and other services. One 2014 study from The Lancet found that decriminalizing sex work could "have the largest effect on the course of the H.I.V. epidemic."