The ACLU-NH sent a survey to all the candidates for County Attorney in New Hampshire that included a question about “sex work”.
Do you support the decriminalization of sex work? Explain. If yes, would you commit to establishing a strong presumption against prosecuting pandering or prostitution related offenses in your county if elected/re-elected?
I was surprised by the two very different responses from the two Republican candidates for Hillsborough County Attorney.
The response from John Coughlin:
Prostitution charges are typically handled in the circuit courts by local law enforcement or local prosecutors. The County Attorney’s office focuses on felony level prosecution. Human trafficking is a crime that must be taken very seriously and given any resources necessary to bring the practice to an end.
The response from Dan Hynes:
I support decriminalization of consensual crimes, which includes sex work (involving parties above the legal age of consent). I do not think these charges regularly go to the County Attorney as they are handled at district court. However, as a broad manner, consensual crimes should not be addressed the same as violent crimes, or crimes with victims.
In his response, John Coughlin says sex trafficking is a serious crime, while Dan Hynes calls prostitution a “consensual crime” and implies that it has no victims.
Listening to my friends, Darlene Pawlik and Jasmine Grace, both survivors of sex trafficking, talk about their experiences and the experiences of other women, I learned that prostitution is not consensual. The women have a pimp who controls them, takes their money, and keeps them under his thumb. These women are beaten down, literally and figuratively.
The ACLU-NH takes the stance that they will save these women by decriminalizing prostitution but that would make their lives no better. We do need to stop prosecuting the women because they are victims, and we need to continue prosecuting the pimps and the men who pay to sexually abuse these women.
The “Nordic Model” describes how to protect women and why we should prosecute those who abuse them. You can learn about it at NordicModelNow.org.
The Nordic Model approach to prostitution (sometimes also known as the Sex Buyer Law, or the Swedish, Abolitionist, or Equality Model) decriminalises all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them exit, and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence, in order to reduce the demand that drives sex trafficking.
They explain in detail why we can’t safely decriminalize the buying of sex.
Prostitution causes damage to those in it and it can never be made safe and its existence makes women’s human right to equality with men a distant pipe dream. Vast sums of money are made from the heinous trade in (mostly) women’s and children’s bodies and this leads inexorably to sex trafficking.
It is time to make it clear that buying human beings for sex is unacceptable and to create criminal sanctions that discourage people from doing it.
I hope that this is an education for the ACLU-NH and Dan Hynes and others that consider prostitution consensual or favor decriminalization.