Veronika Kyrylenko: New York Democrats' Slippery Slope - Now They Want To Decriminalize 'Sex Work'


Whoever began an unspoken competition between New York Democrats for who can produce the most outrageous political agenda played a cruel joke.

The Empire State breeds socialists whose economic plans can’t endure basic economic criticism and, if executed, would turn the U.S. into Venezuela. Then, New York legislators and the governor disgusted the whole nation by legalizing abortion until the moment of birth. And now, New York Democrats want to decriminalize sex work.

“The Democratic and Republican parties have both historically ignored the needs and demands of sex-working people. But first-term state Sens. Julia Salazar (D) and Jessica Ramos (D), who will work with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D) on drafting the legislation, are part of a younger group of more progressive Democratic politicians and candidates who have been vocal about sex workers’ rights. And now there’s an actual chance to get their legislation passed,” the Huffington Post reported.

Proponents of this initiative argue that there’s a need to eliminate “the climate of fear of intimidation” that makes it difficult for sex workers to seek any kind of redress for “labor issues” or to report abuses. As Sen. Salazar put it, “Sex work is work, and we need to start treating it as such.”

Oh, really, senator? Is having sex with multiple partners a day for money just as legitimate as being a teacher, an architect, a programmer … or a senator?

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“I’ve seen sex workers on Roosevelt Avenue nearly my entire life,” Sen. Ramos said. “Decriminalizing sex work will protect (them) from exploitation, allow them to seek protection from trafficking, and will help victims of sex trafficking seek justice.”

As usually happens with their Democratic logic, their argumentation entirely contradicts stubborn facts and reality. If Democrats really cared about sex workers — “the most marginalized of our neighbors,” as Ramos called them, they would study the effects of decriminalization and/or legalization of prostitution in other countries.

In-depth studies from the Coalition against Trafficking in Women, a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide, looked at the effects of decriminalization of sex work in some European countries and the state of Victoria in Australia.

They found that such measures, implemented alone, do not improve sex workers’ situations, but actually makes them worse. Findings demonstrate that legalization increases its demand, accelerates sex trade, expands the market of sex services and expands the amount of child prostitution.

CATW reports indicate that it does not decrease violence against women (who are an absolute majority of sex workers, along with children), does not improve women’s health — both physical and psychological, but rather takes a toll on them. As indicated in one of the reports, “Prostitution is like no other form of work. It involves the use of a woman’s body by the buyer for his sexual gratification. No other workplace has to cover the range of health and safety issues that ensue from this sexual and economic exchange. Together with STDs, verbal abuse, battering, sexual harassment and violence, rape and unwanted pregnancies are recognized occupational health and safety risks within the prostitution industry. This does not change because prostitution is legalized.”

Fervent feminists and liberals must consider the fact that all these “occupational hazards,” paired with the normalization of the sex trade and sheer objectification of women, undermine women’s rights — and human rights in general. It also harms gender equality, as reflected, among others, in the detailed study “Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality,” presented by the European Parliament.

Sex trade has nothing to do with “free choice” of occupation, as the liberal narrative often goes — instead, it is usually viewed by those who make a choice to trade sex for money as a “strategy of survival,” a very last resort rather than a job. Ironically, that is what the ardent supporters of the proposed initiative have admitted — namely, Kate Zen from “DecrimNY” group, said that “Chinese massage parlor workers need decriminalization and destigmatization, so that they are not persecuted for survival, and can seek help in cases of labor exploitation.”

Yes, these poor people are trying to survive, but what they need is not just decriminalization of their forced activity — they need to be saved from the perpetual raping, they need a “requalification,” if you wish. They need a job when they are not viewed as an object to satisfy clients’ sexual whims. Can your socialist policies offer them a better future?

Those who make this hard “choice,” need you to tell the truth — that sex trade traumatizes the “traders.” Even the UN Labor Organization that called for economic recognition of the sex industry and encouraged governments to cash in on the booming profits of the industry by taxing and regulating it as a legitimate job, had admitted in its report that “prostitution is one of the most alienated forms of labor; the surveys show that women worked ‘with a heavy heart,’ ‘felt forced’ or were ‘conscience-stricken’ and had negative self-identities. A significant proportion claimed they wanted to leave sex work if they could.”

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Certainly, there are people who claim that they made this choice deliberately. But the same would be truth for people who deliberately started injecting themselves with heroin. Even though the choice was free, who would argue that a heroin is actually good for you?

While decriminalization of all forms of sex trades — either by choice, circumstances or coercion — is recognized by some international think-tanks as a positive measure, they always explicitly define this form of activity as a human rights violation that needs to be eliminated. In this case, decriminalization of victims would be the first step.

Next, priorities would include criminalization of all forms of pimping, procuring and trafficking, as well as purchasing of sex; offering real alternatives and exit options; developing policies of prevention and provide education.

Is that what Democrats offer? No. They want us to engage in their perverted “new normal,” where the sex trade is a legitimate job. Is it the kind of career you would encourage your daughters to choose, dear New York senators?

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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