Montpelier, VT– There’s a push to change the laws around sex work in the state of Vermont. On Thursday, supporters at the statehouse called attention to a House bill that would decriminalize adult sex work.
Sex work is illegal throughout the country, but Sen. Rebecca White says tit’s time for change.
“Consensual adult sex work isn’t inherently dangerous or violent, but its criminalization puts sex workers and communities at risk,” says Sen. White. “While it would repeal laws prohibiting prostitution, it reinforces laws against human trafficking.”
Rep. Taylor Small says it’s the law itself that makes the work dangerous for the workers. “There is no reason to criminalize consensual adult sex work. They do not protect or help or serve, in fact they actually cause harm,” says Rep. Small.
According to the Urban Institute, decriminalization can lead to other kinds of harm, such as victimizing the workers. But Henri Bynx, the co-founder of an organization that helps sex workers and survivors of human trafficking, is trying to prove otherwise.
“We share the same goals as everyone who wants to eradicate trafficking and exploitation, the data shows that decriminalizing is how we do this,” says Bynx.
She advocates for safe, consensual sex work, especially through her work with The Ishtar Collective. “I want people to understand that fellow Vermonters are struggling beside you to find housing, to find childcare and stability in a changing world simply because sex work is criminalized, because it is stigmatized, because it is misunderstood. We are treated as second class citizens because of how we choose to support ourselves,” says Bynx.
Windor County State’s Attorney Ward Goodenough and Chittenden County’s Sarah George also support the bill. We reached out to other state attorneys for comment but have not heard back.