On behalf of the Sex Workers’ Advocates Coalition, the DECRIMNOW campaign is deeply concerned about the Solicitation of Prostitution arrests conducted by the Human Trafficking Unit on August 2, 2018 in the 3500 – 3600 block of 14th Street NW. We are grateful to see a few comments from the community promoting an end to criminalization as a strategy for building safety.
Since the passage of two harmful federal laws this spring, SESTA and FOSTA, there has been an increase in street-based sex work. These laws shut down major websites that helped people in the sex trades work more safely, and as a result, more and more sex workers are being pushed into the street, targeted, and criminalized. We recognize that this impacts communities and, more so, it impacts the people in the sex trade who have been pushed into the street where they are at greater risk of experiencing violence.
In the wake of the new federal legislation, Councilmember Grosso called for the Metropolitan Police Department to suspend “prostitution” arrests. Instead, MPD has increased its policing and arrests of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers throughout the District, punishing people for the work they do to survive.
While sex workers choose to work in the sex trades for a variety of reasons, the majority of street-based sex workers are women, and especially trans women of color, who face high rates of employment discrimination, homelessness, and violence and turn to sex work to survive. Increased policing leads to increased violence and leaves people with criminal records that create further barriers to alternative forms of employment, thereby trapping people in the sex work. People need more housing and job opportunities, and arresting them solves neither of these problems.
If we want to build a safer community for everyone, then we need a new approach. Please sign the petition to urge Councilmember Allen to set a date for a public hearing on the Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Health and Public Safety Amendment Act of 2017 to bring all perspectives to the table toward the end of achieving community safety: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/push-dc-council-to-hold-sex-work-decriminalization-public-hearing
Organizers with DECRIMNOW