This past week the New York Times Magazine featured the cover story “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?”
The article suggests that people in prostitution are helped by the wholesale decriminalization of the sex trade, including pimping and sex buying.
This position flies in the face of our work assisting thousands of survivors of sex trafficking. Far from being a job like any other, prostitution is almost invariably a condition of gender exploitation and frequently a violent and lethally dangerous form of abuse inextricably connected to sex trafficking.
Each day we work with survivors who share their histories of abuse and exploitation in the sex trade. Many of them were lured into it by pimps and traffickers, most as children. Others have ended up in prostitution when conditions of extreme poverty and prior sexual abuse leave them traumatized and with few options.
Ms. Bazelon’s omission of the experience of these victims, almost exclusively women and girls of color and undocumented immigrants, and her focus instead on the comparatively privileged, adult, mostly white “sex worker,” creates a falsely benign picture of the world’s most brutal industry.