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

At Least 42% of U.S. Voters Want Prostitution Decriminalized

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

New York, NY (October 14, 2021) — A national survey recently found that 42% of registered voters are in favor of decriminalizing prostitution, while 36% think prostitution should remain a crime and 22% remain undecided. Democrats are far more supportive of decriminalization than others, as are people who identify as men. 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.

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

The survey also asked voters whether they would support decriminalizing the sale of sex, while keeping the purchase of sex illegal. Only 7% support this model of prohibiting prostitution, while 60% oppose it, and 33% are unsure. Bills proposing this “entrapment model” — which some people call the “Nordic model” or “end-demand 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.

The vast majority of individuals involved in selling and buying sex are consenting adults. “Proponents of the entrapment model conflate human trafficking with consensual adult sex work, intentionally confusing the issue to advance their agenda of restricting sex between consenting adults. Where trafficking and prostitution are conflated, human trafficking victims are treated like criminals and consenting adults are needlessly arrested,” said Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications at Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW), which commissioned the national poll. “There is less support for the entrapment model than there is for white supremacist views, yet legislators continue to propose the former,” Moscowitz continued.

Decriminalization, 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 758 registered voters in the United States, was conducted by Public Policy Polling on September 30 and October 1, 2021.

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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.

FBI: Prostitution Arrests Outnumber Trafficking Arrests 38 to 1

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

FBI: Prostitution Arrests Outnumber Trafficking Arrests 38 to 1New York, NY (September 30, 2021) — There were 12,895 arrests for prostitution-related offenses reported to the FBI in 2020, and only 340 for sex trafficking offenses, says a newly released report from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. The UCR notes that “law enforcement agencies participate voluntarily and submit their crime data either through a state UCR program or directly to the FBI’s UCR Program.”

Arrests for prostitution-related offenses outnumber those for sex trafficking by nearly 38 to 1. The FBI defines sex trafficking as “inducing a person by force, fraud, or coercion to participate in commercial sex acts, or in which the person induced to perform such act(s) has not attained 18 years of age.”

The vast majority of individuals involved in the commercial sex industry are consenting adults. Policy makers and law enforcement often target consensual adult sex work under the guise of combatting human trafficking, an egregious human rights abuse. “When trafficking and prostitution are conflated, human trafficking victims are treated like criminals and consenting adults are needlessly arrested,” said Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications at Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW).

Prostitution-related arrests are ranked third on the list of arrests for victimless crimes, only behind drug violations and “drunkenness.” “The harms caused by the criminalization of consensual adult sex work are numerous and severe,” said Moscowitz. “Adults should not be arrested for engaging in private activities that do not harm others. Law enforcement should devote their resources to combatting real crimes,” she continued.

Both prostitution arrests and sex trafficking arrests in 2020 were down almost fifty percent from 2019. While the FBI does not attempt to explain the decrease in arrests, several factors could be responsible for the shift, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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.

Vermont Governor Approves Law Combating Crime & Exploitation

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

Vermont Governor Approves Law Combating Crime & Exploitation

Montpelier, VT (May 17, 2021) — Today Governor Phil Scott approved legislation that will provide limited criminal immunity to people who report a crime committed against them, or which they witnessed, while voluntarily involved in sex work or while a victim of human trafficking.

Sex workers and advocates for survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence testified in support of H.18, an act relating to sexual exploitation of children and limited immunity from liability for a person reporting a crime, commonly referred to as a “Good Samaritan Law.” The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Tom Burditt and Democratic Rep. Maxine Grad. The provision on limited criminal immunity was added to the bill as an amendment without controversy and with minimal debate.

“As insiders of the sex industry, we are often the first line of defense against trafficking. … We can spot signs of exploitation or coercion that are subtle and easy to miss, but we cannot report that or intervene safely in a criminalized or fear-based stigmatized environment,” noted J. Leigh Oshiro-Brantly, research and project manager at Decriminalize Sex Work.

“Passing this bill means that a pimp or an abuser could no longer threaten arrest to exploit a sex worker or survivor of trafficking, which is a common tactic of exploitation,” said Henri Bynx, co-founder and co-director of The Ishtar Collective, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization serving sex workers, survivors of violence, and trafficking. They continued saying, “It shows lawmakers care about us, as people. They are taking action to protect our safety by giving us equal protection under the law.”

H.18 is critical to protecting the human rights, health, and safety of all Vermonters. Kelly Arbor, Testing and Education Manager at Vermont CARES, says, “If I’m in a dangerous situation, I need all the tools in my tool belt … if I need to call the police … if I need that tool, I should have the right to make that call. And until we [had] a Good Samaritan Law, sex workers [didn’t] have that right.”

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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.