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By Marco Poggio | November 14, 2021, 8:02 PM EST · Listen to commodity Your browser does not abutment the audio element.

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A actor in a advance alleged Slut Walk (Marcha De Las Putas) in Queens, in September 2020, organized by transgender rights activists ambitious the decriminalization of sex work. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Two abstracted bills authoritative their way through the accompaniment Legislature — the Stop the Abandon in the Sex Trades Act and the Sex Barter Survivors Justice and Equality Act — aim to approve sex work, although with cogent differences.

The aboriginal bill seeks to absolutely approve sex assignment for workers themselves as able-bodied as their audience and managers, while the additional would alone approve it for sex workers. At the abject of the aberration amid the two approaches is a abstract tug of war: Is sex assignment a business like any other, or a barter that objectifies and victimizes bodies and needs to be stopped?

With the barring of Nevada, area corruption is acknowledged in best counties, sex assignment is actionable beyond the United States, so New York assembly are attractive at countries abroad for insights.

The Stop the Abandon in the Sex Trades Act, alien by accompaniment Sen. Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, in 2019 and resurfaced this year as S. 3075, borrows the abounding decriminalization admission adopted by New Zealand in 2003 and by the Australian accompaniment of New South Wales in 1979.

The bill would approve consensual sex amid adults in barter for a fee, which is currently a chic B misdemeanor. It would additionally approve use of barrio for sex work, and has a accouterment to expunge bent annal for prostitution-related offenses that actualize barriers to employment, apartment and admission to college education.

“[What] we’re advocating is decriminalization of two parties that accede to barter sex, for money or for whatever they are exchanging it,” Cecilia Gentili, a transgender rights activist and above sex artisan who advocates for the bill, told Law360. “It’s actual claimed for me, because I am a sex worker, and I am additionally a actuality who accomplished trafficking in my life.”

Gentili helped activate Decrim NY, a affiliation of accepted and above sex workers, accessible defenders and advocates that has led a attack for the bill, which has six co-sponsors in the Senate. A accompaniment bill, A. 849, was alien by Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and currently has 17 co-sponsors.

Advocates of the bill seek to amusement sex assignment as any added profession.

“Sex assignment is a service,” Gentili said. “Sometimes it’s not alike about the sex. Sometimes it’s like acknowledging a person, you know, acknowledging somebody in added agency and alert to people.”

People in the sex barter are victims themselves.

Dawn Gresham

Policy adviser forSen. Liz Krueger

This approach, frequently referred to as the Nordic model, was aboriginal adopted by Sweden in 1999 and has aback been accepted by added European countries such as Norway, Iceland, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Dawn Gresham, a action adviser to Krueger, said that best sex workers are apprenticed into the trade, mainly by bread-and-butter circumstances. The bill would advice them escape it, she said.

“People in the sex barter are victims themselves,” Gresham told Law360. “Survivors abode this as actuality raped on a circadian basis. There is animal abandon they acquire to argue with.”

Supporters of the Decrim NY bill say the administration of corruption laws punishes bodies active in abjection and generally targets bodies of color, associates of the LGBTQ association and immigrants. In their view, abounding decriminalization is a all-important footfall to abode that inequality.

“Sex workers frequently acquire not been respected. Sex workers acquire been apparent as beneath than human. Sex workers aloof haven’t absolutely been accustomed abounding equity,” said Jared Trujillo, an attorney, former sex artisan and apostle with the NYCLU. “This is absolutely a affiliation that’s about adorning sex workers.”

Sex workers aloof haven’t absolutely been accustomed abounding equity. This is absolutely a affiliation that’s about adorning sex workers.

Jared Trujillo


Prostitution-related aesthetics are amid what clearing law defines as crimes involving “moral turpitude.” Regardless of their status, immigrants agreeable in sex assignment face displacement and abnegation of citizenship or added benefits.

Upon its barrage in 2019, Decrim NY advocated for the abolition of a 1970s law prohibiting dabbling with the purpose of prostitution. The law, frequently accepted as a “walking while trans” ban because critics say it targeted transgender bodies in particular, was repealed in February.

Advocates for sex assignment ameliorate argued that the law gave badge too abundant acumen in chief whom to arrest; for example, admiral would stop bodies if they were cutting a brim accounted too abbreviate or for bouncing at cars. In the cutting majority of the cases, they say, the bodies arrested were Black or Latino, and generally transgender.

According to New York Accompaniment Division of Bent Justice Casework abstracts that captures alone top charges, 77% of bodies answerable beneath the dabbling statute beyond the accompaniment were Black or Latino in 2017. In 2018, that allotment rose to 89%.

Meanwhile, arrests for corruption acquire beneath in the state, as they acquire abroad in the nation. Several ample U.S. cities acquire confused abroad from the case of sex workers, which prosecutors do not accede a priority.

DCJS abstracts including alone top accuse shows there were 1,016 bodies answerable with corruption statewide in 2017, while in 2018, there were 861, and in 2019, they were 704. Alone 209 were answerable in 2020, and the cardinal of bodies answerable from January through September of this year is 105.

Most commune attorney’s offices in New York City acquire said they would stop prosecuting sex workers, admitting they would abide to go afterwards pimps and bodies affairs sex. Manhattan Commune Attorney-elect Alvin Bragg, who will activate his appellation in January, told Law360 in an email that he doesn’t plan to arraign bodies affairs sex.

“As DA, I will seek to able bottomward on sex trafficking, but do not accept bound prosecutorial assets should be adherent to any anatomy of prosecuting consensual sex amid adults,” Bragg said.

While Salazar’s bill seeks to actualize the altitude for establishing sex assignment as a acknowledged business and to empower sex workers, Krueger’s angle is geared adjoin acclamation sex trafficking. That bill has been accustomed by anti-trafficking organizations such as Affiliation Adjoin Trafficking in Women, Sanctuary for Families, World Without Corruption and ESPAT USA, and abandoned casework providers such as Covenant House.

The bill seeks to enhance absolute laws about animal trafficking. It would abutting a artifice in accompaniment law that prevents sex buyers from actuality answerable with announcement corruption aback they cartage bodies to themselves, and would annihilate the alleged benightedness aegis for individuals answerable with affairs sex from children. The bill would additionally authorization banking penalties for sex buyers, pimps and traffickers, and authorize accretion banking penalties for echo trafficking and pimping offenses.

The age for defining a victim of sex trafficking would additionally be aloft from 19 to 24 as it pertains to accommodation for programs beneath the Safe Harbour for Exploited Accouchement Act, a 2008 accompaniment law that provides for casework for adolescence who acquaintance animal exploitation. The bill would additionally authorize a “victims of animal corruption fund,” which the accompaniment would use to acquit money to survivors in the anatomy of grants and to armamentarium casework for them.

We apperceive that amends and decriminalization in its assorted forms absolutely bang trafficking into aerial gear.

Justin Flagg

Sen. Liz Krueger spokesperson

Krueger’s admiral say absolutely decriminalizing the sex barter would actualize the altitude for a beachcomber of sex trafficking. They acicular to Rhode Island, which accidentally decriminalized calm corruption in 1980 until a law banned it in 2007. A abridgement of legislation created a alive arrangement of organized sex work, best of it accompanying to spa parlors, some of which were activate to absorb trafficked women, the admiral say.

Gresham and Flagg additionally acicular to European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands that anesthetized acquiescent corruption polices in the aboriginal 2000s and have become accepted destinations for sex tourism. Local governments acquire aback allowable forms of regulations to accommodate an exploding sex industry, they said.

Supporters of the Decrim NY-sponsored bill, on the added hand, acicular to New Zealand as an archetype of a acknowledged paradigm. In 2003, New Zealand adopted a full-decriminalization approach, legalizing corruption with basal authoritative intervention. An appraisal of the decriminalization ameliorate bristles years afterwards it was allowable assured that the sex barter had not expanded.

In 2012, the World Health Alignment encouraged governments to assignment adjoin decriminalization of the sex barter while ensuring that sex workers are adequate from abandon and the advance of communicable diseases.

In 2016, Amnesty International additionally alleged for the decriminalization of prostitution. The alignment said there was no affirmation that criminalizing the sex barter was able in ambidextrous with trafficking.

“The conflation of animal trafficking with sex assignment can aftereffect in ample and ambidexterity initiatives that seek to eradicate all bartering sex as a agency to end trafficking,” the alignment said at the time. “Such approaches assignment in convenance to breach sex workers’ animal rights.”

Human Rights Watch echoed that affect in 2019, adage that criminalizing consensual sex amid adults “is adverse with the animal appropriate to claimed freedom and privacy.”

“A government should not be cogent acknowledging adults who they can acquire animal relations with and on what terms,” the alignment said.

Krueger’s admiral acquaint that abounding decriminalization would facilitate a blooming sex assignment industry in New York, accomplish it a destination for sex tourism and advance to added people, including minors, actuality trafficked. It would additionally accord acceleration to accessible assurance issues, decidedly in New York City, which is already a hub for actionable prostitution, they say.

If one of the abandon of the sex barter is criminalized, it still creates astriction with the police. And what we appetite is sex workers to be able to abode trafficking situations.

Cecilia Gentili

Decrim NY

“Most association who argue this bill affectionate of abject their action on account that we are advocating for trafficking, which is not the case,” Gentili said. “I apperceive what actuality trafficked means.”

The Decrim NY bill leaves complete accepted accoutrement about sex trafficking, but would get rid of accuse of announcement in the third and fourth degree, which supporters say is acclimated to ambition sex workers who assignment and sometimes alive calm mainly to ensure anniversary other’s safety.

Gentili, who entered the sex barter at 17 and said she has been the victim of abduction and abandon by assemblage and badge officers, said Krueger’s angle is problematic.

Continuing to criminalize buyers ultimately makes sex workers beneath safe, she said, because it creates abhorrence in patrons, and that abhorrence can about-face into calumniating and alike agitated behavior. It will additionally bolster badge surveillance of sex workers, as admiral attractive for assemblage will abide to hover about sex workers and generally annoy them, Gentili said.

“Criminalizing buyers creates a lot of uncertainties for the bodies for affairs sex and amercement the business,” she said. “If one of the abandon of the sex barter is criminalized, it still creates astriction with the police. And what we appetite is sex workers to be able to abode trafficking situations.”

Gentili, who now works as a lobbyist and owns a consulting close that advises administration on gender inclusion, said Krueger’s bill is based on the acceptance that sex assemblage are dangerous.

“It brings aback the accomplished stigma that audience are inherently agitated or harmful. And that’s not the truth. That’s not the reality,” she said. “I acquire had audience who were not the best clients, but that happens to anybody in any bearings area we barter something.”

–Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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