“the Maine measure would institute what’s known as “asymmetrical criminalization” or the “Nordic Model” of prostitution laws, a scheme criminalizing people who pay for sex but not totally criminalizing those who sell it. This model has become popular in parts of Europe and among certain strains of U.S. feminists.
But keeping sex work customers criminalized keeps in place many of the harms of total criminalization. The sex industry must still operate underground, which makes it more difficult for sex workers to work safely and independently. Sex workers are still barred from advertising their services. Customers are still reluctant to be screened. And cops still spend time ferreting out and punishing people for consensual sex instead of focusing on sex crimes where someone is actually being victimized.
A recent study of prostitution laws in European countries found full decriminalization or legalization of prostitution linked to lower rape rates, while countries that instituted the Nordic model during the study period saw their rates of sexual violence go up.”
“Overall, liberalizing prostitution laws was linked to a significant decrease in rape rates, while prohibition was linked to a significant increase—but the magnitude of these two shifts was far from equal. Rather, “the magnitude of prohibiting commercial sex is about four times as large as that of liberalizing it,” write Gao and Petrova.
The average rape rate in the sample countries was nine rapes per 100,000 people. Countries that liberalized prostitution laws saw a decrease of approximately three rapes per 100,000 people, relative to countries that did not change their prostitution laws. Meanwhile, countries that banned or further criminalized prostitution saw an increase of around 11 rapes per 100,000 people, relative to the control countries.”
“Gao and Petrova do offer the caveat that “changes in prostitution laws might not be random. It is possible that a country changes the laws as part of a general program to improve women’s social status and is thus instituting other policies that may affect rape rates,” and although they attempted to control for this in various ways, these techniques “may not fully address the possible nonrandomness of prostitution laws.””
“their findings are in line with a spate of previous research linking liberalized sex work laws to decreases in sexual violence. For instance, a 2018 study showed that rapes in Rhode Island decreased when the state temporarily decriminalized indoor prostitution. A 2017 study found fewer sexual assaults after legal street prostitution zones were opened in 25 Dutch cities. Another 2017 study linked the launch of Craigslist “erotic services” ads in various U.S. cities to decreases in female homicide rates.”
“State lawmakers in at least six states have recently introduced bills related to sex work. Some of these measures would decriminalize prostitution, while others would stipulate stronger criminal penalties for prostitution.
States considering the former have the right idea. Decriminalizing prostitution has been linked to an array of positive outcomes, from lower rates of sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections overall to less violence against sex workers. It means fewer law enforcement resources wasted on policing consensual activity between adults, freeing up time and money for stopping and solving serious crimes. It’s supported by organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, and the World Health Organization. It’s also in line with what sex workers around the world say they need.”
“”Though Covid-19 measures may have varied from country to country, governments’ approaches to tackling the pandemic have had a common failing,” said Rajat Khosla, Amnesty International’s senior director of research, advocacy, and policy, in a statement. “An overemphasis on using punitive sanctions against people for non-compliance with regulations, rather than supporting them to better comply, had a grossly disproportionate effect on those who already faced systematic discrimination.”
“Contrary to the often-voiced claim by governments that ‘we were all in this together’, the truth is that their responses to Covid-19 have been experienced unequally,” states Amnesty’s report. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the impact of Covid-19 measures on people who are discriminatorily targeted by criminal sanctions or punitive laws, policies or regulations,” including people who are homeless, engage in sex work, or use drugs, as well as people “targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”
Amnesty’s report comes from a survey of private groups “working on issues including sex workers’ rights, LGBTI rights, drug policy reform, homelessness, racial justice, Indigenous people’s rights, discrimination based on work and descent, and sexual and reproductive rights.” It includes information from 28 countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.”
“For decriminalization to happen in New York, the legislature will have to get involved. That means prostitution—whichever end of the exchange one is on—is still illegal in Manhattan, and a future district attorney could decide to start prosecuting sex workers again. Particular prosecutors pledging leniency is great, but it doesn’t negate the need for legislative change.
That’s especially true since Vance’s office will only offer leniency for sex workers, not their customers. That means Manhattan cops will still be policing private and consensual sexual activity between adults—still doing prostitution stings, still making prostitution arrests, and still prosecuting people on charges of patronizing a person for prostitution.
What Vance’s office is advocating is a form of asymmetrical criminalization, often called the Nordic Model. It’s a system that still creates many of the same harms as total criminalization, since it still forces sex work and sex workers underground.”
“”The data clearly shows that criminalizing consensual adult sexual services causes severe harms, which fall mainly on the most marginalized groups—women, people of color, transgender and non-binary workers, workers’ with disabilities, and economically marginalized workers,” said Jones. This criminalization “does not prevent or minimize violence or abuse ostensibly identified with human trafficking.”
As we’ve been detailing for years here at Reason, this war on sex work not only harms people choosing to engage in prostitution but leaves little room for actually helping victims of violence and sexual exploitation.”
“Eager to drive up prostitution arrests in the name of doing something about “human trafficking,” the New York City Police Department (NYPD) doesn’t much care whether any actual violent crime—or even actual prostitution—is taking place. A new investigation by ProPublica examines how the city’s zeal to look tough on trafficking has created yet another avenue for biased law enforcement and means for police to harass nonwhite residents and communities.
In the past four years, only seven percent of New Yorkers arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution and only 11 percent of those charged with prostitution were white, according to ProPublica.
“Teams of NYPD officers have descended on minority neighborhoods, leaning into car windows and knocking on apartment doors, trying to get men and women to say the magic words: agreeing to exchange sex for money,””
“”Some of their targets were selling sex to survive; others were minding their own business. Almost everyone arrested for these crimes in the last four years is nonwhite, a ProPublica data analysis shows: 89% of the 1,800 charged with prostitution; 93% of the 3,000 accused of trying to buy sex.
Of the dozens of cops, lawyers and other experts ProPublica interviewed for this story, not a single one believes arrest figures for patronizing a prostitute accurately reflect the racial makeup of those who buy sex in New York City.””
“defendants were often coerced into pleading guilty to avoid dragging out court dates, legal fees, etc. In cases where defendants did push back, the city often settled.
“Since 2014, the city has paid more than a million in taxpayer dollars to at least 20 people who claimed they were falsely arrested in prostitution or ‘john’ stings,””
“”Last year, it paid $150,000 to five young Latino men who said they were laughing off a proposition when they were arrested and $20,000 to a West African taxi driver who said in a sworn deposition that he was walking home when a woman asked if he’d walk down the block with her. He told ProPublica he thought she was afraid of walking alone, so he agreed. He was then arrested.
The undercover officer in his case netted 10 arrests in three and a half hours the night she encountered him, earning her four hours of overtime pay.
Eighteen current and former officers who policed the sale of sex in New York City said overtime has motivated them for years. The hours add up over the drive to the precinct, the questioning, the paperwork. “You arrest 10 girls, now the whole team’s making eight hours of overtime,”””
“Agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Arizona have been “fighting” human trafficking by sending federal immigration agents to coerce suspected victims into paid sex acts. These acts were later used by authorities to justify arresting women who agreed to them, seizing their assets, and telling the press it was these women who were the real predators.”
“Absurd and horrifying? Obviously. But also a scenario that is far from an isolated incident.”
“In a recent short video for PragerU, Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican running for Congress in Florida, suggested that one third of the immigrant kids coming over our southern border are being sex trafficked.
She said it in a kind of garbled way—conflating the fact that some kids aren’t related to their smugglers, with the fact that “sex trafficking exists”—but her conclusion was clear: Separating kids from the adults bringing them over the border is for their own protection, because otherwise they are being sold into prostitution.
This notion is preposterous”
“in 2018, the government started doing DNA tests on a limited group of people crossing the border who had aroused particular suspicion. “It wasn’t a random sample of people coming over the border,” she says.
Indeed, many of them were not related to the people they said were their relatives. But that was only a small subset of migrants, and the results were neither surprising nor damning. Unrelated groups often cross the border together, because many times the biological parent is already in the U.S. They left their child behind to be raised by an aunt or grandma until the child was old enough to come over, or the parent was well-established enough to provide them a decent home. The parent then pays for the child’s passage north. Maybe the child is accompanied by an aunt, or even a neighbor who is also migrating. This person might lie about their relationship to the child, but that doesn’t mean their true purpose is sex trafficking.”
“In any case, the government has currently come up with a new excuse for separating children and sending them back across the border: COVID-19. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the feds are deporting hundreds of migrant kids and teens without any chance to plead their case. The government is citing a 1944 law that lists disease-prevention as a reason to bar foreigners from entering the country, but many of these kids were already here when the pandemic began.”