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New York could become the first state to decriminalize sex work

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Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Democrats in the New York state legislature introduced a new bill that would make the Empire State the first in the U.S. to decriminalize sex work.

What are the details?

On Monday, a group of legislators and activists presented the bill that would get rid of legal penalties for buying and selling sex.

The legislation — written with advocacy group DecrimNY — would also repeal misdemeanor charges related to prostitution, such as "pimping" and would permit those people in the sex trade to apply for relief on previous related charges.

The Stop Violence in the Sex Trade Act also includes measures to adjust related prostitution laws.

State Sen. Julia Salazar (D), who is introduced the bill in the Senate along with fellow state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D), told BuzzFeed News that the current statutes regarding minor children and sex traffic would still remain in effect.

"When we talk about decriminalization, we're talking about consenting adults," she said. "Anything that involved children or coercion are things that we feel strongly need to remain in the penal code."

Ramos told the outlet that it's important to reduce violence.

"This entire conversation really happens under the banner of reducing violence," Ramos said. "We don't want sex workers to experience violence at the hands of customers, or the police, or anybody."

Silvia Escobar, a trans sex worker in Ramos' district, said that such law could only be beneficial to sex workers.

"Most people think that when you say 'decriminalize sex work,' prostitution will be legal and human trafficking will be free," she explained. "But decriminalization would benefit us trans women who do sex work."

Jessica Raven, one of DecrimNY's organizers added, "For us, this is a bodily autonomy issue — our bodies, our choice — but more than that, it's an economic issue. And it's personal."

You can read more on the bill's background here.

One last thing…
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