ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Legislation to decriminalize sex work between consenting adults is in the making. Advocates of the bill say this would strengthen protections for a vulnerable community, but those opposed say it would give power to abusers.
Assemblywoman and key sponsor of the bill, Jessica González-Rojas says it’s important for people to know the bill will not make sex work legal, but would de-criminalize it. “It includes both the sex worker, the person who is selling their body and someone who is purchasing the sex, so it takes away criminal penalties, it prevents raids from happening, it ensures that sex workers are safer,” she said. Advocates said this will help sex workers come forward when there is an incident of coercion or violence. Rojas said in her community, most of the people involved in sex trade are undocumented trans women. “And often there’s no other choice, but if they choose to do this we want to protect them,” she said.
But Cristian Eduardo is a survivor of sex trafficking and says victims once again will feel powerless, “And it’s very sad to hear advocates like saying the same words that my traffickers told me.” Eduardo said he was afraid for his life, but after six months, he managed to escape. He said while advocates are normalizing sex trade, it’s very dangerous. “The reality is that in prostitution, like a lot of times, people die, in prostitution, sex traffickers can stab you, and prostitution sex buyers, traffickers can kill you, they can force you to buy or consume substances,” he explained.
Eduardo said lawmakers should instead push for the Equality Model, which provides education, decriminalizing people who are being bought and sold and providing exit strategies for those trapped in prostitution.