MA Democratic Senate Candidates Are Listening to Sex Workers

August 4, 2020

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, rivals in the MA Democratic Senate primary, both voiced their support for the full decriminalization of sex work on a criminal justice panel. In this hotly contested race, the candidates have been recognized as having relatively similar policies. Kennedy voiced his belief that “the time has come to decriminalize and legalize sex work.” He also expressed a desire to work with advocates to “ensure the result isn’t a system that makes it easier for sex workers to be exploited.” Markey was quoted as saying, “It’s our responsibility to listen to sex workers and advocates to work together on how to move forward,” in a less explicit, but still encouraging commitment to decriminalization.

Along with fellow advocates and allies, DSW has been working tirelessly to push full decriminalization into national policy discussions. Last year, our organization launched a campaign to educate presidential primary candidates on decriminalization and why it is essential to our nation’s health and safety. We’ve consulted with national and local campaigns crafting their policy positions to center sex workers and their safety.

We know that where and when sex work is decriminalized, violence against women, sexual assault, and STD infections decrease. We know that when sex workers can safely advertise online, using mainstream platforms, female homicide decreases. In New Zealand, where sex work has been entirely decriminalized, decriminalization helps combat trafficking. Still, politicians can resist supporting the full decriminalization of adult consensual sex work publicly.

We are beyond encouraged to see rival candidates endorsing a policy to support sex worker rights and community health and safety. Both Kennedy and Markey have also exhibited a dedication to defending the rights of gig workers across the board, extending extra coronavirus relief payments for workers. Candidates who support sex worker rights, support human rights.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (left) and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (right) exchange a socially-distanced elbow bump following a debate on August 8, 2020. (Photo: Danny McDonald/Boston Globe)

Both candidates have been outspoken about their support for comprehensive criminal justice reform, giving speeches inside prisons to reach impacted communities. Here, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey talks to inmates on July 7. (Photo: Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

DSW Newsletter #17 (August 2020)

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