Push D.C. Council To Hold Sex Work Decriminalization Public Hearing!

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

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Criminalization is one of the primary sources of violence against Black women and girls, women of color, and trans and gender non-conforming people of color. It increases women and girls’ susceptibility to being shuttled through prisons and experiencing abuse at the hands of police and corrections officers.

D.C.'s sex work criminalization policies have failed to deter violence and improve public safety. They have instead made it more difficult for sex workers to seek safety due to the significant risk of arrest instead of protection and have lead to the deportation of documented and undocumented Queer and trans immigrants, many who are escaping violence from their home countries and working to build better lives. In 2015, nearly 40% of adults arrested 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.
Women, girls, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color deserve to feel safe. The most effective way to end violence against women, girls, trans and gender non-conforming people in the sex trade is to work toward their full economic, political and social empowerment.

Over 41% of respondents who reported engaging in sex work felt it was their only option for income. The report details how lack of access to housing and stable employment forces Black and Brown trans communities, in particular, to receive income "through underground or grey economy work."  

As these forces push trans and gender non-conforming people into underground economies, the District’s policy of criminalization makes this work dangerous and unprotected, contributing to the devastatingly short life expectancies of trans women of color.

For these reasons, we urge Councilmember Allen to bring the “Promoting Public Safety and Health by Reducing Criminalization Amendment Act of 2017” to a hearing in the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. This bill will remove the criminal penalties associated with sex exchange, maintain existing laws on sex trafficking, and establish a task force to evaluate the impact.

This petition is a collaborative effort by BYP100 DC, Collective Action for Safe Space, HIPS DC, UndocuBlack, No Justice No Pride, and the Sex Workers Advocates Coalition 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 women, girls, transgender, and gender non-conforming people of color in D.C.  For more information email swac@hips.org.

References:

https://www.amnestyusa.org/from-margin-to-center-sex-work-decriminalization-is-a-racial-justice-issue/

http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf

https://dcTranscoalition.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/tna-lumby-infographic_ee_7_16.pdf

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To: D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6
From: [Your Name]

D.C.'s sex work criminalization policies have failed to deter violence and improve public safety. They have instead made it more difficult for sex workers to seek safety due to the significant risk of arrest instead of protection and have lead to the deportation of documented and undocumented Queer and trans immigrants, many who are escaping violence from their home countries and working to build better lives.

As chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, we urge you to bring the “Promoting Public Safety and Health by Reducing Criminalization Amendment Act of 2017” to a hearing and facilitate formal community dialogue about efforts to decriminalize sex work in the District.