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Decriminalize Sex Work is a national advocacy organization pursuing a state by state strategy to end the prohibition of prostitution in the United States. Public health studies have consistently shown that heightened criminalization of consensual sex has an inverse impact on the health and safety of those engaged in sex work. We aim to change laws and shift public perception of the industry to decrease stigma and augment the rights and health of sex workers and trafficking survivors.
Facing economic and legal discrimination, COVID-19 poses particular and aggravated risks to sex workers and related communities. Sex workers were excluded from relief packages passed into law in March of 2020, forced to choose between their livelihoods and their personal health and safety. While many have turned to online work and mutual aid to stay afloat, the passage of SESTA/FOSTA in 2018 shut down many platforms that sex workers used to screen clients and identify abuse. The female homicide rate had decreased by 17.4% due to Craigslist ERS and other such platforms. With SESTA/FOSTA banning these types of sites, trends in violence against women are likely to reverse. The Samaritan Women also published a report based on interviews with trafficking survivor service providers. They found that levels of trafficking and violence had only increased since SESTA/FOSTA was implemented. Many workers were forced back into street-based sex work and the hands of exploitative third parties to find clients. Police officers lost trafficking leads that they were pursuing based on online evidence, and violent clients were allowed to slip back into the market anonymously.
Since the full decriminalization of sex work in 2013, New Zealand has witnessed increased safety and health of their country's sex workers. There has been no observed uptick in trafficking rates since decriminalization.
To learn more about the importance of full decriminalization for the health and safety of marginalized communities, please visit our website.
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