September 22, 2020
DSW partnered with The Ishtar Collective (TIC), a local sex worker rights organization in VT, to host a luncheon in Montpelier that brought together state legislators, advocates, sex workers, and trafficking survivors from around the northeast U.S. The event, “Sex Work vs. Trafficking,” centered on a recent VT bill (H.568), which TIC and DSW collaborated on with Representatives Maxine Grad (D-Washington 7) and Selene Colburn (P-Chittenden 6-4), who sponsored the legislation.
This bill would provide limited immunity from criminal prosecution for individuals who are a “victim of or witness to a crime that arose from his or her involvement in human trafficking.” Individuals would be able to report such crimes to law enforcement without fearing arrest or other punitive action. It would also create a Sex Work Study Committee that would review the current state laws governing prostitution to modernize them to promote human rights, public health, and safety for all. Although the legislation passed the House in February of this year, it later died in the Senate.
Despite this setback, DSW was incredibly encouraged by the thoughtfulness of advocates and legislators who participated in the event and are hopeful about the bill’s prospects for the next session. J. Leigh Brantly of TIC and DSW spearheaded the event, with TIC’s Henri Tolbert and DSW’s Frances Steele, Melissa Broudo, Crystal DeBoise, and Kaytlin Bailey all joining remotely to facilitate a discussion of how to identify and fight trafficking, build coalitions to support legislation, and more. Organizational allies from NH were also in attendance, and DSW lobbyist Adam Necrason joined to discuss momentum moving forward. Thank you to all who made this special event possible!