Vid: Legalize Prostitution to Fight Sex Trafficking? These Sex Workers Say “Yes”

When California passed the anti-sex
trafficking measure Proposition 35
 in 2012, an
overwhelming 81 percent of voters chose “yes on 35.

After all, who could be against a law that sought to crack down
on traffickers of juvenile sex slaves?

As it turns out, some of the most outspoken opponents of the law
were sex workers themselves. They balked at the provision requiring
sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, fearing that the
overly broad definition of trafficker could ensnare them,
their customers, and their family members. The anti-pimping
provisions, they argued, blurred the legal lines between coercive
underage trafficking and consensual, adult prostitution.

“They’re calling themselves the anti-trafficking lobby, but
they’re really a group of people primarily against commercial sex
work,” says Mariko
, a San Francisco-based sex worker, artist, and
self-described “whore revolutionary.”

Other sex workers echo Passion’s anti-Prop. 35 sentiments. One
Los Angeles-based prostitute, who asked to be known only as “Holly”
for fear of legal reprisal, says that she freely chose her line of
work following the 2008 housing crash. She had grown tired of the
corporate rat race and wanted to go “off the grid.” Holly, who runs
her own online escort service, says the draconian provisions of
Prop. 35 have made her less likely to report an assault and that
she resents those who think of her as a victim in need of

“The difference between human trafficking and prostitution is
coercion,” says Holly. “I’m not a victim. I’m not being coerced.
But the law doesn’t see me that way.”

What might an alternative system of legalized sex work look
like? Reason TV traveled to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal
brothel in rural Nevada, to try to answer that question (note: link
to Bunny Ranch may not be safe for work). Proprieter Dennis Hof
says that legalization is the fastest, most efficient way to battle
underage sex trafficking and other ills associated with
prostitution. He points to the
remarkably high rate of HIV infection among prosititutes in nearby
Las Vegas
where, contrary to popular belief, sex work remains
illegal and underground. By contrast, he says, there has never been
a documented outbreak among Bunny Ranch workers.

“When you legalize something, it takes all the nonsense out of
the business,” says Hof. “It takes the criminals out of the
business. It puts money into the coffers of society, instead of
taking it out to police this ill [of sex trafficking].”

Can legalized prostitution do more good than celebrity-backed
anti-trafficking organizations could ever hope for? Watch the video
above for the full story, and click the link below for downloadable

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Associate Producer Will Neff.
Shot by Sharif Matar, Alex Manning, and Neff. Approximately 8

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from Hit & Run

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