Sunday, June 9, 2019

The politics of prostitution in the U.S.

The NY Times has the story:
Could Prostitution Be the Next Vice to Be Decriminalized?  By Jesse McKinley

"Marijuana has gone mainstream, casino gambling is everywhere and sports wagering is spreading. Could prostitution be next?
Lawmakers across the country are beginning to reconsider how to handle prostitution, as calls for decriminalization are slowly gaining momentum.
"Decriminalization bills have been introduced in Maineand Massachusetts; a similar bill is expected to be introduced to the City Council in Washington D.C. in June; and lawmakers in Rhode Island held hearings last month on a proposal to study the impact of decriminalizing prostitution.
"New York may be next: Some Democratic lawmakers are about to propose a comprehensive decriminalization bill that would eliminate penalties for both women and men engaged in prostitution, as well as the johns whom they service.
"The debate is unquestionably polarizing in many circles, even among advocates for sex-trafficked and abused women who fear that creating a legal path for prostitution will not eliminate, but rather actually encourage, underground sex trafficking.
"Still, the issue has crept into the Democratic Party’s nascent presidential campaign: In late February, Senator Kamala Harris of California became the first candidate to endorse some manner of decriminalization, an idea also floated by another contender, the former Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper.
"Supporters of decriminalization see their efforts as part of a larger, decades-long liberalization of American mores, like lifting Sunday bans on selling alcohol and legalizing marijuana. They also frame the issue as an act of harm-reduction for prostitutes and a tacit admission that modern law enforcement and age-old moral indignation has done little to stem the practice.

“We’ve learned this lesson many times with the prohibition of alcohol, or criminalization of abortion, or even the criminalization of marijuana: The black market creates dark circumstances and provides cover for a lot of violence and exploitation,” said Kaytlin Bailey, a comedian and former prostitute who serves as the spokeswoman for Decriminalize Sex Work, which was founded last year."

No comments: