Meanwhile, some draw a contrast between laws against sex work and those surrounding pornography, which often requires people to have sex for money in front of the camera. Although authorities have attempted to charge pornography producers under anti-prostitution laws in the past, a 1988 California Supreme Court case found that pornography did not violate those laws. Federal law prohibits sex for money, and there are a number of state criminal charges for prostitution that can affect future housing and employment prospects. Increasingly, public servants are thinking of a world in which sex work is decriminalized. In particular, two states, Oregon and Maine, provide insight into the different ways to get there. “That`s the goal, that`s to reduce the frequency of prostitution frankly to zero,” she said. This year, a bill was introduced in the Oregon Legislature that would eliminate the criminalization of prostitution and commercial sexual solicitation for the buyer and seller of sex. In Maine, a bill introduced this year proposed only partial decriminalization of prostitution — unlike full decriminalization, it would still have exposed people who pay for sex to legal consequences. Mistress Matisse, a dominatrix and writer, described working in a Nevada brothel as a restrictive experience. “You had to be in the brothel 24/7,” she told The New York Times in 2016. “It was like a cross between the summer camp and the women`s prison. Most prostitution in Nevada still takes place illegally, outside of brothels, the Times reported.
People of color are much more likely to be arrested for sex crimes than whites. According to Amnesty International, nearly 40% of adults and 60% of teenagers arrested for prostitution in the United States in 2015 were black, even though black Americans make up only about 12% of the US population. In some states, such as Arizona and Florida, repeated arrests for sex work can result in a conviction for a crime and a prison sentence. Until 2011, some people arrested for sex work in Louisiana were forced to register as sex offenders. In other states, such as New York, sex work offenses are offenses that can be punished with fines and other sanctions. But even then, people arrested for sex work can be detained until trial if they can`t pay bail, as Mac and Smith see in Revolting Prostitutes. They also cite a Virginia county where a jail was forced to introduce 200 deployment beds to allow for a crackdown on prostitution. Even Rep. Lois Galgay Reckitt, sponsor of the Partial Decriminalization Bill in Maine, said she was focused on eliminating prostitution by cutting off the side of sex demand.
Avoiding the police could mean that sex workers have to travel to more remote locations, which can be more dangerous. Working in the same room can help sex workers stay safe, but some anti-prostitution laws make this illegal or even expose workers who share the space to more serious charges, such as encouraging or profiting from prostitution, Mogulescu said. Earlier this year, Democrats in the New York State Legislature also introduced DecrimNY-backed bills to decriminalize prostitution and repeal the state`s loirap. The bills have not passed, but DecrimNY expects them to be reintroduced in the next legislature, Luo said. The legislation has also received a lot of media attention, with coverage in the New York Times, the New Republic and elsewhere. A movement to decriminalize prostitution in America has been going on for decades, said Melissa Broudo, legal director of Decriminalize Sex Work, a national nonprofit organization. Organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union have called for the decriminalization of consensual sex work. Trans women are also particularly likely to be arrested for sex work, even if they don`t do sex work, the advocates say. A law against “loitering for prostitution” in New York state has been dubbed the “walk while she`s trans” law because advocates say trans women are regularly arrested under the law for doing nothing but walking in public. In some New York City neighborhoods, “you can`t be a trans woman of color standing on the street without risking arrest,” Mogulescu said. However, things are starting to change. A bill to decriminalize prostitution in Washington was introduced in 2017.
That did not happen, but it has since been reintroduced, and advocates expect him to get a hearing in the fall. Two months before the public hearing in Portland, Oregon, Nicole Bell signed up for a virtual public hearing to testify in support of Maine`s partial decriminalization bill. Bell, a Massachusetts resident, described herself as a survivor of prostitution and sex trafficking, who was now the founder of an organization that helps survivors of sex trafficking. Criminalizing sex work also puts sex workers at risk of police violence, according to Jessica Raven, a member of the steering committee of the DecrimNY advocacy coalition in New York City. In a 2008 study, nearly one in five sex workers and people identified as sex workers said a police officer had asked them to have sex, and one respondent said she had been “forced to do sexual favours to avoid being accused of prostitution.” At the public hearing in Oregon, Shawna Peterson, executive director of the Oregon Chapter of the National Organization for Women, spoke in favor of full decriminalization. She also said that no matter what model or bill someone believes in, the two things everyone agrees on are that people should not be raped, kidnapped, or “physically or otherwise damaged.” She also said that children should not be involved in any aspect of sex work. She noted that prostitution and sex work are still discussed internally within the national organization, which has always opposed it. In Michigan, prostitution and advertising can be misdemeanors or felonies. Penalties range from a maximum of 93 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $500 for an offence to two years` imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,000 for a crime.