Daily Chronicle: Help Vermont women escape prostitution, don’t legalize it, human trafficking official says

By Guy Page

Vermont’s senior human trafficking official strongly opposes a bill to legalize prostitution, she told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

H.569, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), fellow committee member Selene Colburn (P-Burlington), Diana Gonzalez (P-Winooski), and Emilie Kornheiser (D-Brattleboro), was introduced into the House this week. The bill maintains penalties for coerced prostitution but legalizes supposedly uncoerced sex for sale. Judiciary lost no time scheduling testimony, inviting seven people to testify the day after the session reconvened.

Kara Krier, director of human trafficking victim services, disputes that prostitution is “consensual” based on her six years of working with human trafficking victims in Vermont prisons.

Guy Page

“Most of the women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be selling their bodies,” Krier told House Judiciary Wednesday, the second day of the 2020 session.

Krier said she has met only one woman who said she chose prostitution to pay the bills – “and she was a prior victim of sex trafficking.”

Krier said a major study by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International supports the “no other choice” reality of prostitution in Vermont:

“She felt like she had no other options available to her. We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of ‘sex workers,’ and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution.

“We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out. We in Vermont can do better,” Krier said.

A companion bill, H.568, provides some immunity for prostitutes cooperating with law enforcement, and sets up a “Sex Work Study Committee” to examine “modernizing” prostitution laws.

In support of legalization, Rep. Colburn entered as testimony an academic study that finds that “Sex workers are at disproportionate risk of violence and sexual and emotional ill health, harms that have been linked to the criminalization of sex work. … It showed that in contexts of criminalization, the threat and enactment of police harrassment and arrest … discouraged sex workers from carrying condoms and exacerbated existing inequalities experienced by transgender, migrant, and drug-using sex workers.”

Further hearings are likely if the bill proceeds. Individuals who wish to submit verbal or written testimony before House Judiciary about H.569 and/or H.568 may email the committee assistant at mbailey@leg.state.vt.us.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Image courtesy of TNR

4 thoughts on “Daily Chronicle: Help Vermont women escape prostitution, don’t legalize it, human trafficking official says

  1. It’s good to see these legislators are, pardon the expression, thinking outside of the box!
    Maybe they want to ensure that ‘sex workers’ will earn at least $15/hr?
    Ooops, wouldn’t that be a pay cut!
    Oh, I know they probably want them to register, so when they can’t work a part of each month they can apply for unemployment insurance?
    And if they accidentally become mom’s the can apply for the new Family leave program.
    Hey, let’s keep making Vermont the ‘Liberal Paradise’ you always wanted???
    Anyone got any weed?

  2. Does high taxes make for prostitution to survive in VT? Believe there’s a lot that is unknown. If VT legalizes, does that mean more taxes for Montpelier? Somehow, someway the state will benefit.

  3. You cannot legislate morality. Human trafficking happens even with sex work being illegal, with it being legal those who feel like they’re being abused will actually have recourse without fear of being punished.

  4. Legalization of prostitution??? Now I’m convinced that the inmates are running the institution. What ever happened to Gov. Scott’s appeal to facing the must agenda as compared to the wish list. It appears that as if every new legislative year begins, I’m reminded of the tune “bring in the clowns”. Will it ever end???? Unlikely.

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