Officials Debate Decriminalizing Sex Trade in New York State
Political, law enforcement and human rights groups are debating whether decriminalizing prostitution in New York will do harm or good.
A proposal introduced in the New York State Legislature June 10 would legalize the buying and selling of sex.
Supporters say the measure would reduce human trafficking while making it less dangerous for sex workers.
Opponents, however, say human trafficking would not be thwarted by bringing prostitution out of the shadows. They also argue that sex workers often enter into the trade and continue to work as prostitutes to support illegal drug habits.
Current and former sex workers testified in Albany and talked about being forced into prostitution as minors, facing harm or even death on the streets and at the hands of their "Johns" while trying to make ends meet. Many said they felt they had few or no other options for themselves and their families.
Law Enforcement officials are looking at the ramifications of decriminalizing the sex trade, possibly opening the door for more substance abuse and other crime.
Concerns have also been raised concerning proliferation of sexually-transmitted diseases.
If the legislation moves forward, New York lawmakers would be faced with setting up regulations and taxation guidelines for the industry.
The bill was not expected to come for a vote before the Legislature adjourns for the year.