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The job, she said, is the most stable work she has had and helped put her son through college. But she is doing more than stewing about it. Instead, Ms. Prostitution in the United States is legal only in a few counties in Nevada, which has about 20 legal brothels. At an initial hearing on Thursday, more than people — many of them current and former sex workers — gave radically different opinions about whether decriminalization would cause prostitutes greater harm.

Some prostitutes who have been sex trafficked find themselves on the other side from sex workers who have not been. Prostitutes would most likely work openly out of homes in neighborhoods across the city.

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Certain blocks could become de facto red-light districts. And policing strategy would have to change so officers could distinguish pimps from sex traffickers. Spellman, a transgender woman and activist, has worked for more than two years with Councilman David Grosso and advocacy groups in the city to try to marshal support for the legislation.

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Violence against sex workers had made it critical for lawmakers to do something radical to try to protect them, Mr. But Sarah Smith, 21, who said she had been trafficked as an year-old, said normalizing prostitution would make it far more difficult for the police to find people being exploited. Supporters say the bill — versions of which have recently made little headway in New York StateSan FranciscoNew Hampshire, Free hookers in United States and elsewhere — is the only effective way to combat sex trafficking.

They say that only when every aspect of prostitution among consenting adults is made legal will prostitutes feel secure enough to report criminal activity, including coercion and abuse by pimps or sex buyers, without fear of arrest. Spellman, 52, a longtime advocate for sex workers, said about existing prohibitions on prostitution. I understand the need to protect people, and there are people being exploited, but not in the s that people think. Critics counter that the initiative is promoting a narrative that is dangerously false. That, they say, would force ever younger girls into prostitution and make it difficult for law enforcement to detect sex trafficking cases because citizens might call less frequently if prostitution is legal.

Girls have told us they heard about the bill for the first time from their pimps, who were excited about it. Groups supporting decriminalization include the A. Opponents include the National Organization for Women and World Without Exploitationa coalition of groups dedicated to ending sexual trafficking and exploitation.

For supporters, sex work for adults can be a viable, well-compensated profession that is generally free of exploitation. Pimps are referred to as managers, and violence is uncommon. They argue that laws forbidding bordellos mean that prostitutes are unable to have consensual sex with clients in the safety of their own homes.

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Spellman, who says she does not have a pimp and handles her own business affairs, said pimps and managers serve a vital role — from providing security and transportation to arranging appointments and dealing with child care. For opponents, however, prostitution cannot be separated from exploitation.

Many of the organizations that oppose decriminalizing pimps and johns support variations of what is known as the Nordic modelin which sex workers do not face criminal charges, and are instead offered social services, including housing. Most are between 11 and 19 years old. This bill is horrible. In many ways, the disagreement is a of how quickly the decriminalization movement has become mainstream, an unexpected outgrowth of successful efforts during the past decade to call attention to racial disparities in mass incarceration and the mistreatment of women as part of the MeToo movement.

Prostitutes in many American cities are disproportionately African-AmericanNative American and Latina women and transgender people, advocates say. The murders of transgender women in recent yearssome of whom were sex workers, have also fueled the movement. Advocates believe that decriminalizing sex work would specifically help protect transgender people because they often face discrimination when seeking jobs and decent housing.

Several cities have curtailed their arrests for prostitution in recent years, although buying sex is still prosecuted and pimping continues to be treated as a serious crime. Law enforcement officials say pimps are often also sex traffickers who force women and girls into prostitution through intimidation and violence, including kidnapping.

Free hookers in United States gangs have increasingly become involved in organizing prostitution networks. The experience of New Zealand, which decriminalized prostitution inis used by both sides to try to bolster their position. In Washington on an overcast autumn day this week, motorists could be observed pulling over and engaging in brief conversations with women who lingered on a sidewalk along a stretch of K Street, a few miles from the White House. The women would sometimes climb inside the vehicles and the driver would merge back into traffic.

The sex industry has grown as the city has gentrified, according to prostitutes and the police. There have been numerous arrests on 14th Street and K Street in recent months, and prostitution in the K Street area has led to an F. Inthe police in Washington made prostitution-related arrests, which includes crimes committed by prostitutes and pimps, according to police data. That figure increased to inand there have already been nearly prostitution-related arrests this year.

The increase probably reflects changes in both police enforcement and in the prostitution market. Despite the dire warnings of advocates about sex trafficking, Ms. Spellman said decriminalization cannot come soon enough for her and other transgender sex workers. People look at legalizing prostitution and see something nefarious, she said. The two sides speak about prostitution in very different terms.

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