Tell DC Council To Decriminalize Sex Work!
We have one message to the DC Council: decriminalize sex work and invest in our communities.
DC's sex work criminalization policies have failed to deter violence or improve public safety. They have instead made it more difficult for people in the sex trades to seek safety due to stigma and the significant risk of arrest and police brutality instead of protection.Criminalization has also led to the deportation of sex workers who are migrants, including trans and queer individuals trying to escape violence in their home countries and are working to build better lives
Many sex workers in DC are Black and Brown trans and cis women, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people who have faced discrimination in employment and housing and entered the sex trades to survive.
In the 2015 DC Trans Needs Assessment Report, 40% of respondents said they’d been denied a job because of their trans identity and 55% of Black trans people surveyed were unemployed. 74% of Black trans feminine respondents reported housing instability or homelessness, and half of all respondents experiencing homelessness said they relied on informal economies like sex work to get by. In a separate DC community-needs assessment conducted by HIPS in 2018, 79% of sex workers surveyed said that housing was one of their most immediate needs.
Criminalization fails to address the material needs that sex workers have, and it makes sex workers vulnerable to police violence. Police brutality and harassment of sex workers is commonplace. In a 2008 DC-based survey, nearly 20% of sex workers who had been approached by police were asked for sex from the officer. In the 2015 DC Trans Needs Assessment Report, 15% of trans feminine respondents reported having been sexually assaulted by a police officer. In November 2018, two trans sex workers reported that officers in DC and Prince George’s County were using the threat of arrest to coerce them into having sex.
Black and Brown sex workers receive the brunt of this violence. According to research from Amnesty USA, nearly 40% of adults arrested in 2015 for “prostitution” were Black. This disparity is larger for youth under 18, where approximately 60% of youth arrested for “prostitution” were Black. These conditions are unacceptable.
Black and Brown women, girls, trans, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people deserve to feel safe. The most effective way to end violence against women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming and nonbinary people in the sex trades is to work toward their full economic, political, and social empowerment.
For these reasons, we urge DC Council to push for legislation to decriminalize sex work, retroactively clear criminal records, and invest in resources like safe and stable housing, respectful and affirming healthcare, quality education, and transportation. This would provide safety and support for people in the sex trade, and, in turn, for everyone in our communities.
This petition is a collaborative effort by the Sex Workers Advocates Coalition and the campaign DECRIMNOW DC to end the criminalization of sex workers in DC. As directly impacted individuals, community members, and advocates, we are deeply committed to ending all forms of violence against Black and Brown women, girls, transgender, and gender nonconforming and nonbinary people in DC. For more information, please visit decrimnow.org and contact us at decrimnow.org/contact.
From: [Your Name]
I'm writing to urge DC City Council to push for legislation to decriminalize sex work, retroactively clear criminal records, and invest in resources like safe and stable housing, respectful and affirming healthcare, quality education, and transportation. This would provide safety and support for people in the sex trade, and, in turn, for everyone in our communities.