DC council member supports decriminalizing prostitution

WASHINGTON -- The human rights group Amnesty International has been making headlines after it announced it supports decriminalizing prostitution. Now, one D.C. lawmaker said he applauds the idea and will push for it here in the District.

In mid-July, D.C. police’s Human Trafficking Unit began a crackdown on prostitution. They announced on Wednesday that they have made a total of 157 arrests.

Despite the progress, many say prostitution and the violence surrounding it is a worldwide problem that is not going away.

D.C. Councilmember David Grosso said it is time to give decriminalizing prostitution in Washington D.C. a try.

“When you have two consensual adults and they are exchanging sex for money, that is something that I think we shouldn't be getting in the middle of,” said Grosso.

The at-large council member plans to propose legislation decriminalizing paid sex between consenting adults because he said the city has tried for years to get rid of prostitution and it hasn't worked.

“How do we take a different approach?” said Grosso. “We have to look at it differently and what I'm suggesting is that one way to look at it is through the decriminalization of sex work in the District of Columbia with the coupling of providing these kinds of services that people need in order to not have to go into sex work if they don't want to.”

Grosso said resources would need to be in place to ensure those trading money for sex are as safe and healthy as possible.

Grosso's statements follow the decision this week by Amnesty international to support decriminalizing sex work worldwide. The goal is to wipe out the problems surrounding prostitution, including the violence sex workers face.

“I am definitely not for it,” said Tina Frundt, a sex trafficking survivor and founder of Courtney’s House, which aims to stop trafficking crimes and rescue child victims.

While Grosso believes decriminalizing will prevent human rights violations against sex workers, Frundt only sees it leading to more problems.

“The same problem that Germany had and the same problem that Amsterdam had of legalizing prostitution, the problem was they had to close 30 brothels down,” she said. “Why? Because traffickers are smart and they run a criminal enterprise. Therefore, they were able to get minors false identification into legal brothels and still be able to sell them and profit off of them.”

Frundt said she does agree that it is time to try something new. She would like investigators to consult more with sex trafficking survivors.

It is important to point out Grosso is using the term decriminalize, which would mean the removal of laws against prostitution. But it wouldn't be going as far as to legalizing and regulating prostitution businesses.

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