Hawaii Passes Historic Change to Prostitution Law

On July 2, 2019, with the passage of SB1039, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to allow a person to have a prostitution conviction erased without being a victim of trafficking. The previous law only expunged sex-work convictions after 6 years if there was conclusive proof of coercion or victimization. Sen. Laura Theilan (D) said that "The days of the scarlet letter are over. People who have been in prostitution should not have an onerous burden on them once they leave that job."

DSW supports the law but cautions its encouragement of conflating sex work with victimization. The best way to combat trafficking and promote safety remains full legalization so that sex workers who wish to find new employment can do so without shame or stigma, regardless of their reasons for entering the trade.

Hawaii Governor David Ige signs SB1039 into law on Tuesday, July 2. (image: CNN.com)