Lawmakers in Vermont are considering a new bill that decriminalizes prostitution in the state. The bill was sponsored by four female lawmakers who believe it would make sex work safer while allowing authorities to focus on stopping human trafficking and other crimes associated with prostitution.
The bill grants immunity to people who were victims of or witnessed a crime while engaged in prostitution. Under the current laws, many sex workers are afraid to come forward and report crimes because they fear they will be arrested and charged with a crime.
"Right now sex workers really feel that they cannot access police protection," one of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Selene Colburn, said. "There are tons of statistics about the violence, the high levels of violence, and sex assault that people who engage in sex work experience."
The bill also calls for the formation of a panel to discuss and study ways to modernize the state's current laws on prostitution.
"The underlying question is, do we need to criminalize consensual sex between adults on any terms," Colburn asked.