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Why does sex work need to be decriminalized? 

Decriminalizedsex work is a human right: Consensual adult sex work is a viable work option that helps people who need to have a flexible job. Sex workers’ human rights cannot be fully realized with criminal laws that threaten their access to justice, health, and social services. 

Decriminalization decreases human trafficking: Human trafficking involves using force, fraud, or coercion against an individual to exploit them in a range of labor sectors, including the sex trades. Criminalization makes it harder for those who are trafficked to attain legal aid, support of the government, and get out of trafficking: why ask for help when you could get arrested and deported? 

Decriminalization decreases health risks:  Sex workers should have free access to healthcare to maintain their physical and mental health. Academic research has shown that “decriminalization…is associated with better coverage of health promotion programs for sex workers.” (Pubmed.gov)

Decriminalization protects sex workers from violence, especially police violence:  There are many examples of police exploiting people on both sides of sex work transactions, whether that’s arresting people on suspicion of engaging in sex work or sexually exploiting and otherwise committing violence against sex workers. Decriminalization reduces the harm that sex workers endure on the job by providing workplace protections from all perpetrators. (ACLU

Decriminalizationimproves the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and BIPOC transgender communities:  Workers and clients most targeted for arrest and experience violence are BIPOC people of all genders (trans, gender non-conforming, cis). Decriminalization is a means of achieving racial justice. (Amnesty International

“There have been multiple situations I was physically attacked and/or robbed and could not seek out protection or justice from law enforcement out of fear of being prosecuted for being a sex worker.” 

–An Oregon Sex Worker 

“As a family physician and proponent of evidence-based policy, I support efforts to decriminalize sex work in Oregon. The research behind this movement is clear: criminalization only keeps sex workers vulnerable to violence, incarceration, displacement, and potentially life-threatening health risks. All Oregonians deserve access to physical and mental health care - and legal resources - without fear of retaliation.”

 Oregon State Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, MD

“Prostitution is going to exist whether it is “legal” or not. It has pretty much always existed. As this state has liberalized our approach to substance use and drugs, I think this practice deserves a hard look as well. Honestly why do we care about what consenting adults do with each other even is one exchanges money for it. And the key words here are consent and adults. I get that there are men and women and who are engaging in this kind of work who might not have consented or maybe even got into this kind of work before they were adults and could not consent, but I don’t think considering paying for sex a criminal behavior is going to address that problem.

– Oregon State Representative Rob Nosse