Vermont Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Prostitution

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A bill to legalize adult prostitution in Vermont was recently introduced by female lawmakers in the state’s legislature.

The bill’s text read:

This bill proposes to repeal the prostitution laws while retaining felony human trafficking laws that prohibit recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a minor for the purpose of commercial sex; patronizing a minor for commercial sex; recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining any person through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of having the person engage in commercial sex; compelling any person through force, fraud, or coercion to engage in commercial sex; and patronizing any person for a commercial sex act who is being compelled through force, fraud, or coercion to engage in a commercial sex.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Selene Colburn who is a Burlington Progressive, said she believed decriminalizing so-called “sex work” would offer prostitutes more safety and improve their health.

Colburn also stated that if prostitution were not considered illegal in the state, charges would not be brought against the sex worker or the buyer, the VTDigger reported.

“By driving sex work underground, we’re creating much more dangerous conditions for sex workers. They should feel like they have the protection of police if they need it,” she stated.

However, when the demand for commercial sex increases, it brings with it a rise in human trafficking to meet that demand, according to the Harvard Law and International Development website.

The site continued:

Countries with legalized prostitution are associated with higher human trafficking inflows than countries where prostitution is prohibited. The scale effect of legalizing prostitution, i.e. expansion of the market, outweighs the substitution effect, where legal sex workers are favored over illegal workers. On average, countries with legalized prostitution report a greater incidence of human trafficking inflows.

In October, a Washington, DC, council committee said there would be no vote on a bill to decriminalize prostitution in the area after more than 100 people testified for and against it, according to the Washington Blade.

“I don’t think necessarily that there is an appetite to move it forward now,” said Councilmember David Grosso, who introduced the legislation in June.

“I think right now we still have some work to do to garner support to get it moved through the full Council,” he said.

Prior to the meeting, over 200 people signed an opposition letter to voice their disagreement with the proposed bill.

“What this would do is actually repeal the laws against pimping and pandering, purchasing sex and brothel keeping which we’re concerned would actually fuel exploitation of vulnerable communities,” said Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa.


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