The deceptively-titled Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0318) has been introduced and is supported by several DC Council members, with the goal of decriminalizing all aspects of prostitution, removing criminal prohibitions and penalties for, pimps, recruiters, traffickers, operators of brothels and others who profit from the sale of sexual acts. The consequences of this legislation will be to normalize the use of women for sexual exploitation, increase the number of sex trafficked individuals, and reduce protections for prostituted persons. This bill threatens the well-being of vulnerable women and children throughout DC and the surrounding area, especially those who live in poverty-impacted communities. The nation’s capital would soon become an international sex destination, with all the violence and organized crime that is seen in other cities and countries that have legalized the sale of human beings’ bodies for sexual use and assault at the demand of men.
Please join us in supporting the President and Vice President of NOW, Toni Van Pelt and Christian F. Nunes, as they testify at a DC public hearing to defeat full decriminalization of sexploitation legislation.
- When: Thursday, October 17th at 10 a.m.
- Where: Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC) in Room 412.
Attend the Hearing
A hearing in the DC Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety is set for Thursday, October 17, 10 a.m. in the John A. Wilson Buildiing,1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW. If you can attend the hearing, please let us know by Oct. 14. Send an email message to email@example.com with a subject line “Attending Council Meeting.” Our aim is to fill the room. Please wear black. Those who support full decriminalization are well funded and organized.
If you live outside DC, you are welcomed and urged to attend and to express your opposition to this harmful bill through letters to the editor of the Washington Post or smaller neighborhood and special interest papers in the metropolitan area.
Contact DC Council Members
If you live in the District, please contact your Council Member and urge her/him to oppose this harmful legislation. You can find information about the members here, https://dccouncil.us/the-council/ and the main phone number is 202-724-8000. Tell your council member why legalizing prostitution In Washington would be harmful, and ask them to vote NO. Suggested talking points are below.
If you would like to testify, we encourage you to do that ASAP. The earlier you sign up to testify, the better! Your testimony will be more impactful if given earlier in the day; the hearing may last until 5 p.m.
1. Sign up to testify by emailing the Judiciary Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, you must provide your name, telephone number, organizational affiliation, and title (if any) by the close of business on Monday, October 14th. Make sure to include any special accommodations that you need from Council in your email.
2. After emailing the Judiciary Committee, you should receive an email confirmation. If you do not hear back within 2 business days, email again.
Here are some points to cite in your calls or testimony:
This legislation would have a number of harmful effects on the DMV community and disadvantaged youth and women within it. For example, the bill endorses:
• Decriminalization of brothels. The removal of prohibitions against maintaining brothels will lead to a rise of makeshift brothels throughout the District that are operated without regulation, standards or oversight. This would put exploited people further under the control of pimps and brothel owners while making it more difficult to detect instances of child sex trafficking and violence, since law enforcement will no longer have probable cause to enter suspected sights of prostitution.
• Decriminalization of purchasing sex. Decriminalizing the purchase of sex signals to society that this is socially acceptable behavior. The amount of sex buyers in DC will increase and they will flock to DC from across the country. Sex trafficking will increase in the District as traffickers seek to meet this never-ending demand for paid sex with marginalized women and girls.
• Decriminalization of pimping. This bill amends the DC Code so that pimping is no longer unlawful so long as the parties are 18 and it is a “voluntary” pimping relationship. This measure completely disregards the power and control dynamics in such arrangements and threatens to put vulnerable people further under the control of exploiters and traffickers.
• DC as a global sex tourism destination. By decriminalizing acts of pimping, purchasing, and maintaining brothels, the commercial sex industry will greatly expand, unleashing market forces that will attract organized crime and big businesses, establishing DC as a major sex tourism destination. (Thanks to Rights4Girls for the talking points http://rights4girls.org/)
To protect prostituted persons, NOW advocates for Partial Decriminalization or the Equality Model
Partial Decriminalization or the Equality Model A legal model which protects persons who have been prostituted by removing criminal prohibitions and penalties against them, but maintaining the legal prohibitions and penalties against purchasing sex, pimping, brothel keeping, trafficking, etc. This approach offers greater protection for prostituted persons without providing legal protection to exploiters or expanding the overall market which promotes sex trafficking. In order to truly assist those exploited in the sex trade, we must embrace a comprehensive approach that includes partial decriminalization of prostituted people, along with providing resources like housing, education, healthcare, mental health services, drug rehabilitation and counseling services for those who wish to safely exit the trade and those who are traumatized and unable to leave yet.
Countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel and Canada have adopted this model, the Equality Model, and have found that the number of prostituted persons has declined, in some cases, dramatically. The incidence of violence against prostituted individuals and murders of prostituted women, women and children trafficked along with the number of buyers has been reduced as well.