Feb. 26, 2019, By Meghan Sackman
State Senator Jessica Ramos has co-sponsored a series of bills that would decriminalize sex work and vacate the records of people who have been arrested or charged with prostitution or related offenses.
Ramos, along with State Senators Brad Hoylman and Julia Salazar, aims to rewrite the state’s penal code to protect sex workers from prosecution.
The bills would block the police and district attorneys from arresting and prosecuting sex workers on charges such as “loitering for the purposes of prostitution,” and would vacate past offenses.
“We aim to repeal statutes that criminalize consensual sexual exchange between adults and create a system that erases prostitution records for sex workers and sex trafficking survivors so they can move on with their lives,” Ramos wrote in a Daily News op-ed on Monday, co-written with Salazar.
“Most people trade sex out of economic need: to pay bills, make rent, and put food on the table,” the op-ed says.
Ramos noted that many people who turn to sex work are vulnerable minorities.
“LQBTQ, black and brown, immigrant and disabled communities engage in sex work at higher rates because they are locked out of jobs in the formal economy,” Ramos wrote.
According to the piece, about 94 percent of the people arrested in Brooklyn and Queens for loitering in relation to prostitution are black women. Many are undocumented and are at risk of being deported.
Ramos joined members of DecrimNY, an organization of about 20 groups that seeks to decriminalize and destigmatize aspects of the sex trade, at a rally outside the Manhattan Supreme court Monday.
“We’re not going to keep sweeping it under the rug,” Ramos said at the rally. “We’re going to start giving visibility to communities that have been marginalized for too long.”