ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York legislation to decriminalize sex work between consenting adults is in the making. Advocates for the bill say it would strengthen protections for a vulnerable community, while 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 decriminalize 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, a survivor of sex trafficking, says victims once again will feel powerless.
“It’s very sad to hear advocates like saying the same words that my traffickers told me,” Eduardo said.
Eduardo said he was afraid for his life, but after six months, he managed to escape. He said while advocates are normalizing sex work, it’s very dangerous.
Eduardo said lawmakers should instead push for the Equality Model, which provides education, decriminalizes people who are being bought and sold, and provides exit strategies for those trapped in prostitution.