THE PRO­TEC­TORS

Eight ex­perts ex­plain why they think the sex trade should not be de­crim­i­nal­ized

InStyle (USA) - - Directory - (CONTINUEDO­N PAGE 200) BY S H A L AYNE PULIA PHO­TO­GRAPH ED BY MARK L IM

Ear­lier this year, when a bill call­ing for full de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion was in­tro­duced in New York, eyes across the na­tion turned to the Em­pire State. Sup­port­ers think the bill and oth­ers like it would cre­ate a safer en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple ex­ploited in the sex trade and em­power them to have agency over their bod­ies. But Alexi Ashe Mey­ers, an at­tor­ney at Sanc­tu­ary for Fam­i­lies (SFF) and co-chair of the New York State Anti-traf­fick­ing Coali­tion, in­sists this is not the case. Ashe Mey­ers, who has ded­i­cated her ca­reer to sup­port­ing sur­vivors of gen­der-based vi­o­lence, says full de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion would more than likely lead to an in­crease in sex traf­fick­ing, which is cur­rently an es­ti­mated $150 bil­lion-a-year global in­dus­try. “If you re­move any im­ped­i­ments to buy­ing sex and nor­mal­ize it, there’ll be an in­crease in that act. Peo­ple from the most im­pov­er­ished and marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties then get traf­ficked in to meet that de­mand,” she ex­plains. “I want peo­ple to un­der­stand how re­gres­sive and an­tifem­i­nist it would be to de­crim­i­nal­ize an in­dus­try in which women are bought and sold for the plea­sure of men.”

Ashe Mey­ers and the sex-trade sur­vivors, lawyers, and ex­perts fea­tured here sup­port the Equal­ity Model (also known as the Nordic Model), in which only those who buy sex as well as third-party ex­ploiters are crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted. This frame­work, al­ready in place in sev­eral coun­tries such as Swe­den, Canada, and France, not only keeps those who are bought and sold in the sex trade out of jail but also pro­vides them with ac­cess to med­i­cal care, hous­ing, and other so­cial ser­vices to help them leave the in­dus­try. It also es­tab­lishes ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives to spread pub­lic

From left: Shobana Pow­ell, Ane Mathieson, Re­becca Dince Zip­kin, Me­lanie Thomp­son, Yvonne Chen, Alexi Ashe Mey­ers, Shan­dra Woworuntu, and Laura Ramírez in New York. Styling: Lau­rel Pantin. Hair and makeup: Glam­squad.

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