Washington D.C. Councilmember, David Grosso proposed a bill that would decriminalize prostitution in the nation’s capital.
The bill, Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Health and Safety Amendment Act of 2017, was developed by Grosso after working with the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition.
Grosso told Fox News, “I believe that we as a society are coming to realize that excessive criminalization is causing more harm than good, from school discipline to drug laws to homelessness,” he continued. “It is time for D.C. to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex and move from one of criminalization to a focus on human rights, health and safety.”
The bill would protect sex workers and their customers from criminal penalties in Washington D.C.
The bill is in no way enabling human trafficking or coerced sex against one’s will. Grosso and his supporters, believe that decriminalizing sex work will ultimately help improve human rights and crime. “We believe that removing criminal penalties for consensual sex work between adults will improve public health and safety, protect sex workers, and enable us to better address violence and human trafficking,” he said. “There are still even penalties for sex in public. You wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Grosso added, “The bill does not change any of our laws regarding coercion or exploitation, which will continue to be prohibited. Nor does it change how minors involved in sex trade are considered.”
Decriminalizing prostitution will allow sex workers to speak up about violence and sex trafficking they see in their field of work. According to a statement by the Anti-Violence Project, “When sex work is criminalized, sex workers experience high rates of violence, both from customers and from law enforcement.”
It continues, “Furthermore sex workers who experience violence are less likely to report these instances of violence and are not able to receive victim services due to D.C.’s current laws.”
Grosso told the Washington Blade he expects strong opposition to surface against his bill by members of Congress, which has the authority to veto any legislation passed by the Council.