The Swedish model of gender equality decriminalizes all those exploited in prostitution by offering them services instead of punishment, while punishing those who would buy sex as a commodity. Our law holds buyers accountable, as well as pimps, not those who have fallen into prostitution through debt, manipulation or coercion. While “progressive” Democrats are largely behind the push to decriminalize prostitution, the two New York bills and my lobbying experience show that support for decriminalizing sex trafficking is far from unanimous, even among identified “progressive” Democrats. It is unclear when politicians will vote on the two bills. Of course, these two powerful Democratic lobby groups won`t stop advocating for their causes, even if that means waiting for several more sessions of the state legislature until New York makes a final decision on what prostitution means for women`s rights. Will New York treat the sale of women and girls for sex like any other business, or declare prostitution a form of exploitation and a male right from which women and girls must be protected? 2. Making false statements, misrepresentations or material omissions in order to induce or maintain the condescending person to engage in or prosecute prostitution; “Sweden has seen a 50% drop in street prostitution. New York`s prostitution laws have improved over the years, with incremental efforts to eliminate the harms of criminalization. More recently, there has been a dangerous attempt to rename the Nordic model of prostitution (trapping model) to a model of equality. Current legislation threatens to implement this flawed system in the United States.

By effectively legalizing all sex trafficking, this law has the potential to make New York a global center for sex tourism and human trafficking, as studies have shown that legalizing prostitution leads to an increase in human trafficking, including an increased number of children entering sex trafficking. The global average age for entering sex trafficking is between 12 and 14 years, with children generally remaining in commerce until adulthood. In the Netherlands, where it is legal for a man to buy a woman for sexual purposes, the number of child victims of sex trafficking increased by 300 per cent between 1996 and 2001. Other attempts to decriminalize sex trafficking elsewhere in the U.S. have been crushed through the efforts of coalitions like NYFEM. Recently, in Oregon, a campaign to create a voting initiative that would allow Oregon residents to vote on decriminalizing sex trafficking was scrapped in part because attorneys for human trafficking survivors filed a lawsuit over language allegedly appearing on the ballot. This threatened the petitioners` ability to collect more than 112,000 signatures from Oregon voters by the July 8 deadline. Petition efforts have been postponed until a court decision is rendered. In Washington, D.C., efforts to decriminalize prostitution failed after a fourteen-hour hearing filled with attorney references such as that of Yasmin Vafa, executive director of the Washington-based nonprofit Rights4Girls.

“The decriminalization of prostitution is supported by a powerful lobby.” The link between legalized prostitution and sex trafficking is obvious. Our Department of Justice told us that it had intercepted calls from traffickers who said it was not worth doing business in Sweden and that it would be better to go to neighbouring countries where the sale of trafficked girls and women would be much easier. And indeed, sex trafficking in Sweden has decreased significantly since we passed the law. Sweden is not a favorable market for sex traffickers who rely heavily on prostitution to create demand and retail for their supply chain of girls and women. By refusing to prosecute cases of prostitution, New York City has joined other cities like Baltimore, which have made similar announcements as a result of ongoing discussions on decriminalizing sex work and criminal justice reform. (Other counties, such as Queens, have also announced that they will deny the prostitution allegations.) And many sex workers` rights advocates applauded the postponement. “I think it`s great! Stopping arrests will have a huge and immediate impact on sex workers struggling to survive under criminalization,” said Kaytlin Bailey, sex worker advocate and host of the Oldest Profession podcast. “Of course, it`s just a first step, but it`s a good step.” A person is guilty of prostitution if he engages, agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person for a fee. New York would be the first U.S. state to move beyond the archaic notion of women in prostitution as drivers of the industry, guilty of inciting innocent men to commit sinful acts.

The responsibility for sex trafficking lies with buyers, who create demand for the commercialization of women, and the surrounding multi-billion dollar industry, which thrives on its exploitation. Those provided by a supply chain to meet this demand – mostly women and mostly women of color – should be protected rather than prosecuted.