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Listen: The Case for Legalizing Sex Work

Abigail Swenstein, Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Society, recently appeared on the Finding Humanity podcast “Stigmatized: Making the case for legalizing sex work.”

While sex work remains broadly criminalized, a growing push from sex worker advocates say that decriminalization (not legalization) would create public health and other societal benefits – such as reducing the incentive for illicit trafficking – as well as empowering sex workers by creating “a more even power dynamic [that] would give more power to the people that are selling sex.”

“Regulating and dictating what women can and cannot do with their bodies has always happened,” said Swenstein, “and control over women is inherent in our history and our society . . . People making decisions for themselves and what they want to do with their own body [is] really problematic for some.”

Swenstein also pointed to the plight of those in the sex work industry who must face potentially dangerous interactions with law enforcement.

“We hear from a lot of our clients that full decriminalization would have ma[ke] them feel safer,” Swenstein continued. “It’s very clear from speaking to clients over the years that [they]have terrible interactions with law enforcement, everything from misgendering trans-women to engaging in sexual assault and rape of sex workers.”

Listen to the full episode below.