July 19, 2023
This June, Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) attended the MAPS Psychedelic Science conference in Denver, Colorado. 2023 marked the fourth gathering of the psychedelic community for the quinquennial conference, bringing together over 10,000 participants for talks, workshops, and events on the latest breakthroughs in psychedelic science.
DSW Development Manager Esmé Bengtson and Political Director Rob Kampia attended the three day conference to meet with donors who have a vested interest in Americans' access to therapeutic and recreational drugs. There is much overlap between the drug war and the criminalization of sex work in the United States. People who use drugs and those who engage in sex work face stigmatization, denial of health care, and a higher risk of experiencing violence. These challenges are caused and exacerbated by criminalization and the punitive justice system. Drug possession and prostitution have the highest rates of incarceration for victimless crimes in the United States. The full decriminalization of sex work and drug use is the most effective criminal justice policy to reduce mass incarceration, the misuse of taxpayer’s money, and increase public health and safety.
In July, DSW attended FreedomFest in Memphis, Tennessee. FreedomFest is an annual conference for freedom seekers. It advertises itself as the “ultimate summit for liberty by bringing together a diverse group of people, organizations, and businesses who advocate for greater liberty politically, socially, economically, financially, culturally, physically, intellectually, artistically, and philosophically”. While FreedomFest is non-partisan, the conference tends to attract a large group of Libertarians. The Libertarian Party’s stance on sex work is rooted in consent and individual rights. “Libertarians believe that the private sexual choices of consenting adults should not be criminalized nor subject to public policy, and this does not change when payment is involved.”
DSW Staff Attorney Becca Cleary and Development Manager Esmé Bengtson attended the conference in Memphis and staffed DSW’s booth. They discussed how the decriminalization of sex work is the best policy to fight human trafficking, increase public health and safety, and safeguard American’s freedom with conference-goers.
June 2, 2023
Staff Attorney Rebecca Cleary joined “Creating Multifaceted Policy to Address Stigma Against Sex Work and Institutional Challenges Facing Workers” as a panelist during the Law and Society Association’s annual conference. This year’s conference was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The panel brought together experts from sex worker rights, harm reduction, migration, drug policy, and gender violence to discuss the institutional and cultural issues sex workers face, including stigma that is frequently compounded by their multiple overlapping marginalized identities.
The panelists included Debora Upegui-Hernandez, Justice Rivera, Mariah Grant, and Becca Cleary. Melodie Garcia of The New Moon Fund moderated.