May 23, 2023
DSW Legal Director Melissa Broudo and Community Engagement Consultant Henri Bynx were at the Rhode Island State House in April and May, as the study commission on which Bynx served held its final meetings. The commission will soon release a report with recommendations based on its findings.
The study commission was formed following the unanimous passage of House Resolution 5250, which proposed a special legislative commission to study ensuring racial equity and optimizing health and safety laws affecting marginalized individuals. The bill, as passed, delineated who should sit on the commission, which includes thirteen members, including individuals with lived experience. Other members of the commission include two legislators, a member of COYOTE RI, a representative from Amnesty International, two representatives of organizations serving populations disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of commercial sex, the director of the Department of Health, an attorney from the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office, the Rhode Island attorney general, or designee, a representative from the Brown University Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and the president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, or their designee.
The study commission has met eight times since fall of 2021 with experts from both within the commission and outside of it testifying at each meeting. In her capacity as legal director at DSW and with over twenty years of experience representing and advocating for the legal rights of consensual adult sex workers and survivors of human trafficking, Broudo testified in April 2022 about the devastating consequences of the conflation of consensual adult sex work and human trafficking. She helped to draft the legislation proposing the study commission as she believes that public policy should be informed by research and evidence. In April 2023, Broudo and Bynx testified together, providing recommendations to the commission. Bynx has testified on the impacts of criminalization on their life as a consensual adult sex worker. A leading advocate for sex worker rights, Bynx spoke powerfully about the critical need for decriminalization — the vital step that would allow individuals marginalized by criminalization to live with less fear and more dignity. In June 2022, Bynx provided testimony on the intersection of sex work and LGBTQIA+ rights.
DSW advocates for the creation of study commissions focused on evaluating prostitution laws, addressing trafficking concerns, and identifying better ways to create support systems for both sex workers and trafficked people.
Read our fact sheet on study commissions to review existing laws and address trafficking and exploitation.