Is it time to decriminalize prostitution? | The Tylt

Is it time to decriminalize prostitution?

Americans spend more than $14 billion on prostitution annually, but it's still illegal in most of the United States. Instead of curbing the industry, prohibition makes the sex trade profitable for those who exploit it and dangerous for workers. Many say decriminalization will give sex workers much-needed rights and protect them from violence. But others argue all sex work is exploitation and say decriminalization will increase trafficking and abuse. What do you think?

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is it time to decriminalize prostitution?
A festive crown for the winner
#DecriminalizeSexWork
#KeepSexWorkIllegal
Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Is it time to decriminalize prostitution?
#DecriminalizeSexWork
#KeepSexWorkIllegal
#DecriminalizeSexWork

In 2015, Amnesty International voted to recommend the full decriminalization of sex work and prostitution, in the name of protecting human rights of sex workers. The resolution recommended decriminalizing all aspects of adult, consensual sex work, while still classifying coercion into sex work or having sex with a minor as a major human rights violation. David Rosen wrote in favor of it at Salon:

"The decriminalization of prostitution can help bring sex workers...out of the social shadows so they could secure labor rights, unemployment benefits, health care and life insurance. More important, sex workers will be more able to secure police protection to deal with threatening or violent situations."
imageSupportingMedia
#KeepSexWorkIllegal

But the Amnesty decision was denounced by groups whose goal is to end prostitution, which they see as inherently exploitative and abusive. Many of these activists call themselves abolitionists, and they argue prostitution is never a choice:

"Conversations around 'sex work' often focus on the issue of 'choice'....What we don’t talk about enough is the context behind said 'choices.' Issues like poverty, abuse, gender inequality, racism, and a history of colonialism all play a role in leading women into prostitution and keeping them there."
imageSupportingMedia
#KeepSexWorkIllegal

More than 400 organizations and private individuals joined the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) in a letter condemning Amnesty’s decriminalization policy proposal. Celebrities such as Lena Dunham, Emma Thompson, Carey Mulligan, Angela Bassett, Kate Winslet, and Anne Hathaway all signed:

"Full decriminalisation of the sex trade renders pimps ‘businesspeople’ who sell vulnerable individuals, overwhelmingly with histories of poverty, discrimination, homelessness and sexual abuse, to buyers of sex with impunity.”
#KeepSexWorkIllegal

Many anti-prostitution activists advocate for what's called "the Nordic model," in which the people purchasing sex services are criminalized, not the people selling them. Feminist leader Gloria Steinem is against decriminalization and strongly advocates for the Nordic model:

The pimps, brothel owners and traffickers who buy and sell other people’s bodies are the force trying to decriminalize the entire global sex industry. Is that what she has in mind? [The Nordic model is] the only model that offers services to prostituted people, and penalizes sex buyers only with a fine and learning the realities of the global sex trade. This has been more successful than any other model because it recognizes the power difference between buyer and bought.
#DecriminalizeSexWork

But professional dominatrix and decriminalization activist Mistress Matisse went off on the actresses who opposed the Amnesty resolution as ignorant and the Nordic model as a failure:

The idea that actresses know more about human rights policy than Amnesty is patently absurd....Studies have shown that even when only the clients of sex workers are criminalized, sex workers must move to less safe settings to meet them. It is the Nordic Model that is the failed social experiment.
#DecriminalizeSexWork

And many sex workers resent being told by abolitionists that none of them are making a choice. They want protections and the right to continue working in the sex trade, and say they do not need rescue from it.

#DecriminalizeSexWork

Open Society Foundations argues it's time to not only decriminalize sex work, but to stop stigmatizing it:

"Decriminalizing sex work means sex workers are more likely to live without stigma, social exclusion, and fear of violence." 
#DecriminalizeSexWork

Decriminalize, don't legalize. The distinction is important for sex work advocates:

The philosophical underpinning of decriminalization is the removal of the idea that sex work is a criminal issue which needs to be managed by the criminal justice system, and instead treats sex work as what it is, work....The main problem with legalisation is that it barely impacts those with the most privilege, and harms those with the least. It is always easier for the privileged to jump through state-imposed hoops.
#DecriminalizeSexWork

And many sex work advocates say there is simply no thing as "ending demand," as abolitionists claim the Nordic model will do.

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is it time to decriminalize prostitution?
A festive crown for the winner
#DecriminalizeSexWork
#KeepSexWorkIllegal