“Criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer,” Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said, adding that doing so often has the effect of “further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers.” Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

Society USA12. May 2021

Sex Workers and Trafficking Survivors Should Not Be Punished, Decide Authorities

Manhattan becomes the fourth borough in New York City, United States, to stop prosecuting prostitution and unlicensed massage, helping sex workers and trafficking survivors to feel less stigmatized.

“Over the last decade we’ve learned from those with lived experience, and from our own experience on the ground: criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers,” says Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. who consulted sex workers and other people with relevant experience prior to formulating the policy.

A total of 914 open cases involving prostitution and unlicensed massage have been dismissed, as well as 5,080 cases of loitering for the purposes of prostitution, most of them dating to the 70s and the 80s. If prostitution and unlicensed massages are no longer punishable offenses, other crimes related to prostitution still are, meaning that pimps, sex traffickers, and people who pay for sex will be prosecuted by the D.A.’s office. So far, the cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia have stopped prosecuting sex workers, along with New York City’s boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

New York Times

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