Sex crimes expert warns decriminalization bills will help pimps, not sex workers

The executive director of the group Rights4Girls was on the “Morning Drive” radio show on Wednesday to talk about bills moving through the Statehouse that aim to decriminalize sex work — but they may make it easier to be a ‘pimp’ in the business, and more difficult to rescue the sex workers.

H.372 and S.125, one House bill and one Senate bill, list the same statement of purpose.

“This bill proposes to repeal the prostitution laws that currently prohibit ‘indiscriminate sexual intercourse’ and consensual engagement in sex work for hire by adults while retaining strict prohibitions and felony criminal penalties for human trafficking of persons who are compelled through force, fraud, or coercion to engage in sex work,” the bills state.


Yasmin Vafa is co-founder and executive director of Rights4Girls.

Yasmin Vafa, of Rights4Girls, explained that even with the best of intentions, the final impact of these bills is that it will be easier for pimps — “the managers” as she called them — to run their operations without fear of arrest. She also said it will become more difficult to rescue women who feel stuck or intimidated into the sex trade.

“What they are essentially doing is repealing all of the lesser penalties for trafficking, which is what most prosecutors use to hold sex traffickers accountable — because the reality is sex trafficking statutes are very difficult prosecutions to bring,” she said.

“They rely on victim testimony, and these victims are often incredibly traumatized, they are very scared, they often do not feel safe confronting their traffickers. And so those prosecutions are often very difficult to bring,” Vafa added.

She also noted that the bills have no measures for the expungement of existing criminal records for sex workers, something that she would endorse as a tangible step to help people get back to other means of income.

An increase in demand

Vafa said the demand in the sex trade industry is growing.

“That’s because even though sex buying is illegal virtually everywhere in the United States, there are enough men who are perfectly content to break the law to buy sex, that the demand for commercial sex already outpaces the supply,” she said.

“That’s why sex trafficking already exists. There’s already not enough willing participants to provide sexual services, so traffickers have to resort to manipulating and coercing vulnerable people to meet the demand that already exists.”

A caller says Vermont is already not prosecuting sex workers

A caller to the show suggested that prosecution of sex trafficking crimes is close to non-existent in the state.

“I would respectfully challenge her to provide the identity or name of anyone who has been charged with either soliciting or prostitution in at least the last 60 years, that is charged and convicted and sentenced — because no one has,” the caller said.

He continued to allege that there are escort services running currently in Vermont, including at least one that has ads in a local newspaper.

Vafa didn’t dispute the notion that prosecutions are rare.

“They [authorities] were asked at a press conference how many prostitution arrests were even occurring and no one was able to answer that,” she said.  “And in addition, they actually haven’t done a lot to prosecute traffickers in Vermont. We have a child sex trafficking problem in Vermont and there has been very little to no prosecution.”

It didn’t work in Rhode Island

According to Vafa, decriminalized prostitution has been tried around the world, and even within the United States, and the results have not been positive. She pointed to Rhode Island, where prostitution was decriminalized for about three decades.

“Rhode Island is the only state to have experimented with full decriminalization of prostitution — for about a 29-year period between 1980 and 2009. And based on their experiences with it they saw increased gender-based violence, increased child sex trafficking, increased organized crime. And as a result, they shifted their laws back,” she said.

Who’s behind the bills?

H.372’s lead sponsor is Rep. Taylor Small, P/D-Winooski. The bill lists 13 additional sponsors.

In the Senate, the lead sponsor of  S.125 is Rep. Becca White, D-Hartford. That bill lists nine additional senators as co-sponsors.

Another caller asked Vafa if any lawmakers have responded to her group’s attempts at informing them about the topic.

“Yes, I won’t name names, but yes, there has been a number who have not wanted to meet with us,” she said.

The host does not endorse these bills

One of the show’s hosts, Kurt Wright, a former Republican lawmaker and Burlington city councilor, was skeptical that the bills would help sex workers.

“This does nothing but promotes the bad folks, I don’t know how else to put it,” he said.

The Morning Drive program can be heard online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Rights4Girls

10 thoughts on “Sex crimes expert warns decriminalization bills will help pimps, not sex workers

  1. Those legislators, who are sponsoring this bill, just want to pick up a few extra bucks doing what they do best legally.

  2. Vermont feminist activists from 30+ years ago must be aghast at what passes now for deference to the “womens’ rights” they fought so hard to gain. We have anatomical males in the womens’ changing facilities, boys competing against girls in formerly gender-segregated sports and now a newfound respect for “the oldest profession” in the supposed name of harm reduction. The manifestation of deep mental illness that causes people to vote for democrats and progressives is a pathos that needs to be studied in depth for the harm it is bringing to our society.

  3. Men love sex, women love money. What could be wrong with this plan?

    Perhaps we should be focusing on love. Focusing on realistic expectations in relationships, such that our main focus is not in the gutter.

    To blame his on the John’s is only a fraction, albeit 50% of the problem. The whole scam of you can be rich working the sex trade is the entire trap.

    Would women do this is they weren’t being paid?
    Would men be doing this is they were already getting love?

    Sex and money are false idols, money does not provide love and security for women. Sex does not supply love and a relationship for men.

    Sex and Money are very powerful influencers, if you let them be your idol they will ruin you everytime.

    • Oh, it will help,the state raise more money too, just like how they want to legalize on line betting. Just like they want be able to indoctrinate your child to be ruled by their lusts and to confuse them about their sexuality and then have control of their life altering decisions despite not being of legal consent.

      Is this a government of the people, by the people and most importantly for the people?

      This is most certainly not for the people spiritually, nor scientifically, nor financially. It’s most importantly against God’s will for his people!
      What could possible go wrong with the new Vermont Strong! Program, lol…..

      As they say the Defil is in the details, too funny. It most certainly is.

      • Apparently he’s in auto correct and probably chats to too, yes the devil is on the details…

    • The proposals attempt to sugarcoat the criminal conspiracy involved in this trade and perhaps a sheild to protect the most heinous profiteers from prosecution (aka them.) The oldest profession in the world will not be eliminated. Nevada has regulated it for decades. High-end escort services operate around the world. The likes of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghis Maxwell was an operation of the highest criminal kind involving the highest caliber world leaders, celebrities, politicians, bureaucrats, etc. Human trafficking (which does include the drugs as well) kidnaps and enslaves innocent adults (men and women) and children. They are not willing participants in this trade. Where is the Equity/Inclusion outrage against this modern enslavement? They are silent on the subject – gee, I wonder why? Considering the level of criminal conduct going on at the highest levels, the lower level despots are co-conspirators and working diligently to cover their involvement and hold themselves harmless. They are guilty and no amount of legislation will remove the blood stains from their cloaks and hands.

  4. Where do we get these people, I thought we supported women, but turning them
    into corner whores, now that’s progress.

    Liberals……………..fools !!

  5. The liberals running (ruining) my state are criminally insane. These are the same fools that want a waiting period to buy guns to prevent suicide, after passing an assisted suicide law. You can’t make this crap up. They also want to decriminalize drugs and get rid of bail. We have way too many homelessness here already, don’t they think that they will be recruiting more homeless junkies here? With the shortage of police here due to defunding I urge every normal Vermonters to always carry, practice a lot and get a lot of ammo. You are responsible for your own safety.

  6. Combine the legalization of prostitution with the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy (with no age restrictions) and you open the door to high-school kids.

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