SWOP Behind Bars will be attending, presenting and tabling at the International Human Trafficking Conference in Toledo on September 20 and 21st
“I want safety of women, yes. I don’t want prostitution.” In the District of Columbia, City Council member David Grosso introduced legislation in 2017 to decriminalize all forms of sex work. The bill is backed by pro–sex worker groups including Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, one of the nation’s oldest sex worker advocacy groups, and activists say they are hopeful the City Council will take up the measure later this year. Whether or not it passes is in some ways beside the point. Given the stigma associated with the industry, getting a major metropolitan government to seriously consider decriminalization would be a major coup for a constituency that has largely operated in the shadows.
Julia Salazar, who is running for a New York state Senate seat representing north Brooklyn, arrived a few minutes later to send them off. She said sex workers—“my constituents”—are disproportionately criminalized in her district. Bushwick, for example, was among the top five New York City neighborhoods where police made “loitering for prostitution” arrests as of 2015. She referenced the Brooklyn courts, where 94 percent of those facing loitering for prostitution charges were Black. “That should disturb all of us,” she said. Salazar argued that sex work policing was a central part of a bigger problem with Brooklyn’s approach to criminal justice.
“As with most other data related to human trafficking, there are huge gaps between estimates of prevalence or populations at risk and individuals actually identified as trafficking victims or enrolled in government programs. Better data and research are needed to begin distinguishing among possible reasons for the gaps between prevalence estimates and administrative data.”