The following column was written by one of Del. Kory’s interns, Samantha Townsend, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University. who had to research and propose legislation as part of her internship.
Speech: Rescuing women is the world’s oldest justification for male violence. Since at least the 1800s, white upper-class men and women took it upon themselves to rescue “fallen” women by acting in concert with the criminal justice system to control the lives of poor women. Since the 1970s, anti–sex work feminists have joined forces with conservative, right-wing, anti-sex crusaders to frame all sex work as “sex trafficking” and, more recently, “modern slavery.” These “carceral feminists” turn to the criminal justice system to solve gender violence and end up criminalizing marginalized populations.
The root cause of sex work is poverty. Poverty is a state-generated problem; the state pushes people into sex work by denying them access to a safety net and then arresting them as sex traffickers. Helping sex workers does not mean viewing them as victims and sending in the state to punish them. As with any other struggle, if we’re interested in improving their often dangerous working conditions, we have to heed and support the demands of the workers themselves. We must stop reinforcing a racist, sexist system of moral judgment and punishment, and instead work toward systemic change.
With HB729, sex-work will no longer qualify as a means to criminalize already marginalized populations. In order to stop the cycle of violence created by previous legislation, Virginia must take these steps towards legitimizing the profession of sex work.
- Ends the cycle of incarceration of poor women
- Calls to attention the negative bias placed on the topic of sex
- Does not remove restrictions on solicitation of a minor, or sexually transmitted disease
- Creates jobs
- Needs further enforcement; sex work commerce board?
- Doesn’t remove the traditional standard of punishing the sex worker and not the adulturer
- Needs restrictions on where/when sex work is legal
- In order to decriminalize sex-work and to amend the existing VA statute
18.2 so that only the prostitution of a minor would be penalized by law. § 18.2-346. Prostitution; commercial sexual conduct; commercial exploitation of a minor; penalties.
- Recently passed legislation to allow victims of coerced prostitution to repeal charges
- Needs to emphasize the impact of carceral feminism and why this creates a cycle
- Highlight the statistic on why sex work historically is always in high demand, this not only creates a need for a supply of sex work, but those same people who cry injustice at prostitution are consuming the goods and services provided by that same act.
Specific counties in Nevada have legalized prostitution — Churchill, Esmerelda, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and Storey.
Code: A. Any person who, for money or its equivalent, (i) commits any act in violation of § 18.2-361; performs cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus upon or by another person; engages in sexual intercourse or anal intercourse; touches the unclothed genitals or anus of another person with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify; or allows another to touch his unclothed genitals or anus with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify or (ii) offers to commit any act in violation of § 18.2-361; perform cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus upon or by another person; engage in sexual intercourse or anal intercourse; touch the unclothed genitals or anus of another person with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify; or allow another to touch his unclothed genitals or anus with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify and thereafter does any substantial act in furtherance thereof is guilty of prostitution, which is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. B. Any person who offers money or its equivalent to another for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts as enumerated in subsection A and thereafter does any substantial act in furtherance thereof is guilty of solicitation of prostitution, which is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, any person who solicits prostitution from a minor (i) 16 years of age or older is guilty of a Class 6 felony or (ii) younger than 16 years of age is guilty of a Class 5 felony.
The fiscal impact of HB729 would be driven by: Establishment of licensed prostitution business.