A coalition of women’s rights organizations, service providers, faith-based community leaders, and survivors of the sex trade held a press conference on the steps of City Hall in New York City to denounce parts of the proposed legislation by the New York State Assembly to decriminalize prostitution. The bill which is sponsored by New York State Senators Julia Salazar, Jessica Roman, and Brad Hoylman, as well as Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, also includes the decriminalization of pimping and solicitation of prostitutes.
U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, “This proposal should be called the Pimp Protection Act because that’s what it is. I support efforts to decriminalize prostitution, but I do not support any idea that would let the pimps, the johns, the exploiters of the hook.”
The alliance is calling to criminalize solicitation of prostitution and pimping while at the same time calling for the decriminalization of prostitution as well as providing services to victims of the sex trade which include housing, medical care, counseling, education, job training, and tools to quit the sex trade if desired.
Ane Mathieson of Sanctuary for Families: “Our clients live through the ongoing repercussions of severe medical injuries and illnesses that are the direct result of sex buyers and pimp violence, abuse and repeat sexual use. We want the survivors and the commercial sex industry decriminalized. But we do not want sex buying or pimping decriminalized.”
The press conference and rally was interrupted by two sex workers shouting, “Listen to sex workers!” Both women were adamant that they are not victims and that their stories also deserved to be heard.
Gloria Steinem who wasn’t present sent a statement that read in part, “It is crucial to decriminalize prostituted women, men, and children, and it’s is equally crucial to not decriminalize the pimps and traffickers who exploit them.”