OUR POINT OF VIEW: A critical look at the decriminalization of prostitution | Opinion

The world’s oldest profession is still illegal in most of the United States, but if the bills presented to the state legislature are passed and proclaimed, prostitution will no longer be a crime in New York City.

Governor Kathy Hochul said last week she would consider the idea of ​​decriminalization, a change from the previous administration.

The ban on prostitution was based on what many consider immoral behavior. Yet it still thrives today, far more than we would probably like to think, and making prostitution illegal has only made it more dangerous for those involved.

Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and Senator Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, defend a bill designed to bring sex work out of the shadows by decriminalizing not only prostitution, but also condescension of a prostitute and “pimping”, that is to say, setting up meetings for profit.

A second bill, put forward by Senator Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, would decriminalize prostitution itself but increase financial penalties for pimps, traffickers and buyers of sex.

The New York bills are an outgrowth of a national movement to counter the commercial exploitation of those who provide sex for pay, by removing criminal penalties.

“It’s absolutely something I’ve been thinking about and considering,” Hochul told City & State, an online outlet.

Hochul’s comment drew attention because former Gov. Andrew Cuomo never accepted the idea that the sex trade should be decriminalized.

Hochul also announced the appointment of Amit S. Bagga as Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs. In an unsuccessful campaign for a New York City Council seat earlier this year, Bagga ran on a platform that called for the complete decriminalization of sex work and the granting of paid sick leave to people. involved in trade.

“I am sure Governor Hochul is the first New York governor in 250 years to address this issue,” said Gottfried, lawmaker since 1971.

Hochul’s comments on the matter drew a rebuke from the state’s Conservative Party chairman Gerard Kassar.

“There is nothing to study here,” Kassar said. “It’s a horrible idea. This will create havoc in urban areas and stress throughout the state. You cannot decriminalize sex workers and not have a negative outcome. “

Can the results be more negative than they are now?

It might make more sense to make the entire profession legal – and regulated, even if the bills introduced don’t go that far.

Nevada is the only state in the country where prostitution is legal. New York could learn from his example.

If prostitution is regulated, as are hair and tattoo parlors, licensed prostitutes may need to undergo regular testing to ensure they are in good health. The regulations would also help prevent some of the worst aspects of today’s underground world of prostitution – human trafficking and pimps taking advantage of women – and men – who may view prostitution as their only choice.

If those entering the profession know that there are laws to protect them, they will have a voice. If people are comfortable using their bodies as a tool for making money, why shouldn’t they?

Gottfried said the prostitution bills fall under the category of measures that force “a lot of people to change the way they think,” citing the legalization of marijuana and legislation allowing same-sex marriage as other examples.

“A governor can plan a huge role in changing public attitudes on very fundamental issues,” he said.

We will see if any of these attitudes change soon.

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