For media inquiries, contact Ariela Moscowitz: Ariela@dswork.org | 212-368-7874

New Report: New York Prostitution Arrests Target Women and People of Color

NEWS RELEASE | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | PDF

Media Contact:
Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications
Ariela@DSWork.org |
(212) 368-7874

New Report: New York Prostitution Arrests Target Women and People of Color

Prostitution arrests seemingly shifted from street arrests to massage-parlor raids

New York, NY (February 15, 2022) — Prostitution arrests in New York State overwhelmingly target women and people of color, according to a new report released by the national advocacy organization Decriminalize Sex Work.

The report aggregates data in New York that have not been previously examined in their totality, finding that:

* In 2019, the enforcement of crimes explicitly involving prostitution, including loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense, resulted in the arrest of female-identified individuals 97% of the time.

* Similarly, in 2019, these prostitution-related arrests targeted people of color more than 90% of the time.

* In the last 10 years, 90% of individuals arrests for patronizing a prostitute in the third degree were Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), despite the fact that national studies report between 80% and 85% of sex buyers are white men. Convictions in New York showed a similar racial bias.

* Arrest rates for prostitution and related crimes are declining in New York. Instead, those arrests have seemingly shifted to people working at unlicensed massage parlors, locations NYPD Vice Squad regularly raid as a result of anti-Asian bias and discrimination.

“Lawmakers in New York, particularly in New York City, have been very vocal about trying to protect survivors of human trafficking as well as sex workers. However, in general, the lived experience of individuals does not reflect this,” said Frances Steele, research and policy coordinator at Decriminalize Sex Work. “Not only are these policies failing, but they are disproportionately harming people of color.”

“We all want to end human trafficking. Arrest data, public health research, and the lived experiences of those in the industry all point to full decriminalization of consensual adult sex work as the best way to diminish exploitation. Because this is a deeply emotional issue, individual beliefs and bias often get in the way of enacting the most effective and safest policies. We must turn to the data and ensure a fact-based approach to making policy — not one based on stereotypes, tropes, misinformation, or fear,” said Melissa Broudo, Legal Director of Decriminalize Sex Work.

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Decriminalize Sex Work’s new report — “By the Numbers: New York’s Treatment of Sex Worker and Trafficking Survivors” — examined trends in arrest and conviction rates for both prostitution and human-trafficking offenses in New York State, as reported by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) is a national organization pursuing a state-by-state strategy to end the prohibition of consensual adult prostitution in the United States. DSW works with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and convince legislators to stop prostitution-related arrests. Evidence shows that decriminalizing sex work will help end human trafficking, improve public health, and promote community safety.

Vermont Voters Support the Decriminalization of Sex Work

NEWS RELEASE | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | PDF

Media Contact:
Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications
Ariela@DSWork.org |
(212) 368-7874

Montpelier, VT (January 31, 2022) — A recent statewide survey shows Vermonters support the decriminalization of sex work by more than 13% compared to those that think sex work should remain a crime (46–33). 21% of those surveyed remain undecided. The poll found that Democrats are far more supportive (50–24) of decriminalization than Republicans (30–57). Individuals over the age of 65 are least in favor of reform, while those between the ages of 18 and 45 are most supportive of decriminalization followed by those between the ages of 46 and 65. These results closely reflect national trends.

Evidence supporting the numerous benefits of decriminalization continues to surface. Sex workers, academics, human-rights activists, and public-health experts are increasingly calling on legislators to consider the facts around decriminalization, which demonstrate increases in public health and safety and decreases in exploitation.

On January 14, 2022, Representatives Colburn of Burlington and Kornheiser of Brattleboro, along with eleven other legislators, introduced H.630, an act relating to voluntary engagement in sex work. The bill, citing research and evidence proving the many deleterious effects of criminalization, cultural changes in the century since laws prohibiting prostitution were enacted, and “Vermont’s commitment to personal and bodily autonomy” proposes to decriminalize consensual adult prostitution while reinforcing laws against human trafficking.

The survey also asked voters whether they would support decriminalizing the sale of sex, while keeping the purchase of sex illegal. Only 13% support this model of prohibiting prostitution, while 61% oppose it, and 26% are unsure. Bills proposing this “entrapment model” — also called the “Nordic model” or “equality model” — have been introduced in the New York, Massachusetts, and Maine state legislatures. Lawmakers market this legislation as a means of curtailing prostitution and combatting trafficking, while evidence shows it does neither. Countries that have implemented the entrapment model continue to see violence and exploitation perpetrated against sex workers.

Most individuals involved in selling and buying sex are consenting adults. Sex work is not inherently dangerous or exploitative, but criminalization puts sex workers at risk and creates conditions that allow for trafficking to proliferate. “The decriminalization of sex work has reduced exploitation where and when it has been implemented,” said J. Leigh Oshiro-Brantly, co-founder of The Ishtar Collective, Vermont’s only organization run by and for sex workers and survivors of trafficking and research and project manager at Decriminalize Sex Work. “Unambiguous data from around the world shows a clear correlation between laws like the equality or entrapment model and an increase in violence and exploitation within the sex trade,” they continued.

The decriminalization of consensual adult sex work, a critical component of criminal-justice reform, has gained considerable traction amid a nationwide reckoning with the dangers of over-policing, a ballooning prison population, and cries for immediate changes to the criminal justice system.

The poll, which surveyed 616 registered voters in Vermont, was conducted by Public Policy Polling on January 17 and 18, 2022.

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Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) is a national organization pursuing a state-by-state strategy to end the prohibition of consensual adult prostitution in the United States. DSW works with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and convince legislators to stop prostitution-related arrests. Evidence shows that decriminalizing sex work will help end human trafficking, improve public health, and promote community safety.

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