Human Trafficking

Stacey Abrams Says Country Has 'Obligation' To Keep Sex Workers Safe

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said sex workers deserve safety and support ― and that includes women who choose to work in the industry as well as those who are victims of trafficking. 

“Women should not put their lives at risk because of sex, and whether it is seen as a commercial enterprise or it’s human trafficking our obligation is to create a safe space so that no woman risks her life because of sex,” the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial nominee told The Root in an interview published Monday. 

Decriminalizing sex work has become a national conversation since President Donald Trump last year signed into law the controversial Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The law targets sex trafficking by shutting down online platforms, like Craigslist’s personal ads and, which are rife with advertisements for sex work involving voluntary sex workers and trafficked victims. 

Sex workers and advocates have criticized the law because it conflates voluntary sex work with trafficking victims forced into the industry. Critics also argue that the legislation will only push sex work further underground, putting voluntary workers and trafficking victims into even more danger. 

“I think we’ve seen in a number of countries and in a number of states progress made towards making certain that women are protected,” Abrams said, when asked if the U.S. should decriminalize sex work. “And that ultimately should be the point.”

Earlier this year, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she supports decriminalizing sex work ― a sharp shift from her days as the district attorney for San Francisco. 

“There is an ecosystem around that that includes crimes that harm people, and for those issues, I do not believe that anybody who hurts another human being or profits off of their exploitation should be free of criminal prosecution,” Harris told The Root in February. “But when you’re talking about consenting adults, we should consider that we can’t criminalize consensual behavior.”

Watch Abrams’ full interview with The Root below.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to note that Trump signed the FOSTA law last year, not last week. 

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