WHILE MUCH OF AMERICA is EXPLORING PUNITIVE ABOLITION, NEW HAMPSHIRE is CHATTING CIVILIZED with INNOVATIVE DISCUSSION on CONSENSUAL ADULT SEX WORK!
image from Cop Block dot org
BACK STORY: New Hampshire (D) Representative Elizabeth Edwards has stepped up in support of decriminalization of prostitution in New Hampshire. Since 2012 most of the Lower 48 has been engaged in aggressive changes of legislation conflating consensual adult sex work with sex / human trafficking.
Press Conference and Committee Hearing
So why does New Hampshire support DECRIM? From what ULS can find out so far, it seems to be both fiscally prurient, along with supporting the view that consensual adults are allowed a definite and certain amount of sexual privacy.
Sound fiscal planning. It is not economically feasible to process prostitutes in the prison system:
The New Hampshire Municipal Association states the legalizing prostitution when the participants are consenting adults may result in a decrease in local expenditures if law enforcement expenditures decrease.
SEX WORKERS OPPOSE 1613-FN aka The Nordic Model
HOUSE BILL 1613-FN
AN ACT relative to criminal prosecution for those charged with prostitution.
SPONSORS: Rep. Hoell, Merr. 23; Rep. Itse, Rock. 10; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf. 15; Rep. Abramson, Rock. 20
COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety
ANALYSIS: This bill makes it a misdemeanor to purchase or offer to purchase sexual contact.
SEX WORKERS SUPPORT HB1614-FN Decriminalizing Consensual Adult Prostitution
HOUSE BILL 1614-FN
AN ACT relative to the criminal penalty for prostitution.
SPONSORS: Rep. Edwards, Hills. 11; Rep. Bouldin, Hills. 12; Rep. C. McGuire, Merr. 29
COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety
ANALYSIS: This bill legalizes consensual sex between consenting adults and makes any solicitation of sexual contact involving a person under 18 years of age or through the use of force or intimidation a felony.
FREE KEANE reports: Elizabeth Edwards is a Free State Project early mover and elected democrat state representative who has heroically put forth the only proposed repeal of the prohibition on prostitution that I’ve heard of in my near-decade here in New Hampshire. Were HB 1614 to pass, adults in NH would be able to trade sex for money without fear of arrest, prosecution, and jail. It does NOT create a regulatory structure (legalization) it just strikes the statutes criminalizing prostitution, and keeps in place prohibition on sex slavery. It’s an excellent bill and surprisingly, everyone who testified on it, testified in favor.
So – Inner Industry buzz is on why SWOP-USA is still chatting – without testifying – whether or not to support DECRIM? Especially since SWP came out in support of the effort.
(Note: Sex Workers Outreach Project = SWOP Sex Workers Project = SWP in affiliation with Urban Justice Center (UJC) Manhattan. )
ESPU / CUSP MEMBER T. BURNS RESPONDS to SWOP-USA:
“The bill is straight decrim – did you even read it? And Rep Edwards did reach out to several sex workers and organizations that actively work on policy. SWOP has been really clear about its inability to reach consensus and take a policy position regarding the decriminalization of it’s members. It is appalling that a supposed sex workers rights organization is treating an ally this way and sabotaging a bill that would decriminalize us and that other sex worker activists have put so much work into. I think you owe Rep Edwards a public apology and thank you.”
BELLA ROBINSON REPORTS LIVE FROM THE COURT:
The bill is very clear.
It would decriminalize all adult prostitution in NH.
Representative Edwards DID reach out to several sex workers in our community, and a few sex worker rights organizations.
I (BELLA) testified in support of 1614, and testified to oppose 1613.
Rachel West of the U.S. PROS Collective, and “Phoebe from Philly“ also testified. I organized, and had sociology professors from 3 universities send in letters of support. I help organize sex workers and allies to email letters in, by using the list of all the committee members with their contact info that Rachel West drafted.
Pheobe traveled to New Hampshire to testify because, as her Red Hen blog, shares, she believes DECRIM will:
- Increase safety as sex workers could work together and more easily report violence;
- Enhance health as sex workers could more easily access services and wouldn’t be deterred from carrying condoms for fear that they will be used as evidence of prostitution;
- Free up police time to focus on the investigation of violent crimes such as rape and domestic violence rather than the policing of consenting sex (particularly important as the Committee is primarily made up of former and current law enforcement);
- End criminal records which bar sex workers from getting other jobs. This is crucial for anyone who may want to leave the sex industry and is unable to.
Phoebe’s blog adds: “… poverty is increasing the numbers of women, particularly mothers, going into prostitution and that tackling poverty and providing resources would be much more effective.
New Zealand successfully decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and a government review showed positive results: no rise in prostitution; women able to report violence without fear of arrest; attacks cleared up more quickly; sex workers more able to leave prostitution as convictions are cleared from their records; drug users treated as patients not criminals.”
BELLA ROBINSON. Dedicated Speaker on Sex Work and DECRIM:
When I testified I educated the committee on the difference between legalization and decriminalization and many other topics that affect the “erotic community”. I took time to explain that sex workers need to work together to ensure their safety, and that”3rd party support staff” were hired help, not pimps and traffickers.
BELLA’S CONTINUED COMMENTARY on 1613/1614 HEARING:
During the hearing, One guy who was there to oppose it changed his mind on the spot once he heard us testify. One lady was – like – “will this mean prostitution houses in our neighborhoods?”. I could tell she was going to suggest regulations, and I shut her down with, “there’s already residential brothels through the whole state, and you don’t notice they are even there!”
They tried throwing street workers under the bus, and we said no, they tried introducing HB 1613 – the nordic model – and we said NO! I explained clients had rights too and that we have a disabled client as a plaintiff in ESPLER v GASCON. I am pretty sure we killed HB 1613. I told them about the NGOs taking the money & leaving our youth to live in the streets. We told them they take children away from sex workers and how we are discriminated against in housing and child custody and that HB 1614 was just a start because we also need discrimination and hate crime legislation. Then a state trooper testified last + the committee shut her down with questions. Every time she answered it was “I am not sure I will have to check”, and all she seemed to know is that they only had 3 people in prison for prostitution related charges and that only 500 people have been arrested for prostitution in 15 yrs in NH. The only reason the trooper claimed to oppose HB614 is because they think decriminalization will bring criminals to NH. Most of the committee members looked at her like she was stupid. I think at that point they saw how ineffective criminalization is.
01/25/2016 PRESS RELEASE re: NH SB 1614
CoyoteRI testifying to decriminalize prostitution in New Hampshire
As the executive director of CoyoteRI (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), I will be testifying for the committee hearings on House Bill 1614, (Thursday January 28th 2016 at 11am) a bill that seeks to decriminalize prostitution, on Thursday in New Hampshire. The main reason I want to see prostitution decriminalized is because it is the only harm reduction model proven to reduce violence and exploitation in the sex industry.
In August 2015 Amnesty International voted to adopt a policy to protect the human rights of sex workers. The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking, and violence.
“We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,” said Amnesty’s Salil Shetty.
Amnesty’s research and consultation was carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face.
The violations that sex workers can be exposed to include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, human trafficking, forced HIV testing and medical interventions. They can also be excluded from health care and housing services and other social and legal protection.
Amnesty’s policy has drawn from an extensive evidence base from sources including UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. We have also conducted research in four countries.
The consultation included sex worker groups, groups representing survivors of prostitution, abolitionist organizations, feminist and other women’s rights representatives, LGBTI activists, anti- trafficking agencies and HIV/AIDS organizations.
Amnesty International considers human trafficking abhorrent in all of its forms, including sexual exploitation, and should be criminalized as a matter of international law. This is explicit in this new policy and all of Amnesty International’s work.
In 2003 New Zealand passed the “Prostitution Reform Act,” which decriminalized all aspects of adult prostitution. Upon a 5 year review, New Zealand has just about rid the sex industry of exploitation. Sex Workers reported that they had better relationships with the police.
It is crucial that sex workers can work together and share work space to ensure their safety. Many sex workers, utilize 3rd party support staff to help keep them safe. Under current US laws 3rd party support staff are legally classified as traffickers. Sex Workers need “equal protection under the law”. Sex Workers need to be able to report violence and exploitation to the police, without fearing that they are in danger of being arrested and further persecution.
Criminalization of prostitution is a failed policy. It hasn’t stopped anyone from “buying or selling” sex, but it has caused a lot of collateral damage. From our failed “Safe Harbor Laws” to the insane Homeland Security trainings of hotel staff who have been told to report people who have too many condoms. We need to ask, where are the big pimps and traffickers?
Could it be that the majority of US Sex Worker are under their own control? Even the minors interviewed in Surviving the streets of NY: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM & YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex study by the Urban Institute, say that “they did not have pimps and they taught each other how to find clients, while avoiding police and social workers..
To add insult to injury, researchers have found that “the biggest threat to underaged Sex Workers is the police.” Jenny Heineman, a sociologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas worked with the federally funded Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children program, in collaboration with research teams across the U.S. Says “More than half of the young people I interviewed stated that they regularly perform sex acts for police officers in exchange for their not being arrested”.
In the Special Report: Money and Lies in Anti-Human Trafficking NGOs we find that the US is funding US trafficking NGOs, over 600 million a year to “create awareness on human trafficking” yet these NGOs do not provide any direct services to trafficking victims or sex workers.
We can do better than this which is why I support New Hampshire’s House-Bill 1614.