Leading up to an LGBTQ forum hosted by CNN, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she was ‘open’ to decriminalizing ‘sex work’, including brothels, pimping and prostitution.
“… And I am open to decriminalizing sex work. Sex workers, like all workers, deserve autonomy and are particularly vulnerable to physical and financial abuse,” she said in a tweet, according to Faithwire.
She has mentioned this belief previously in an interview with the Washington Post.
She is, however, not the only candidate with this belief. According to reason.com, four other candidates—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey—have also voiced support for decriminalization.
“As a general matter, I don’t believe that we should be criminalizing activity between consenting adults, and especially when doing so causes even more harm for those involved,” Booker said. “The real question here is what will make sex workers safer and reduce exploitation, and abundant evidence points to decriminalization.”
Bernie Sanders, however, has been vaguer and addressed concerns with sex trafficking.
“It is a complicated issue,” he said. “I think nobody wants to do anything which increases the horror of sex trafficking in this country, so it’s an issue that has to be discussed. It is a complicated issue, but my promise to you is that it’s an issue that I will discuss, and we will hear from all sides and come up with the best solution that we can.”
Several supporters of decriminalizing sex work point to FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), a law passed in 2017 that imposes fines and prison terms up to 10 years for people who use the internet to “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person,” including platforms such as Craigslist.
Opponents of the bill believe taking down platforms in which they can find work harms them.
“There is ample evidence, both anecdotal and researched, that giving sex workers a way to advertise, vet, and choose clients online makes them much safer than they are without an online system,” according to an article on Vox.
Faithwire argued that employing the “Nordic Model” would be a far more effective way to serve sex workers without decriminalizing the work.
“It doesn’t put women in prostitution behind bars,” director of abolition for Exodus Cry, Laila Mickelwait, said. “It sees them as victims, provides social services and exit services for them, and then goes after the pimps and the johns and the traffickers and the brothel owners and those who would seek to exploit women in prostitution.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Ethan Miller/Staff
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.