Kamala Harris: ‘We Should Not Be Criminalizing Women Who Are Engaged in Consensual Opportunities for Employment’

By CNSNews.com Staff | August 20, 2020 | 4:32pm EDT
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Kamala Harris (D.-Calif.), who is now the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said in a town hall broadcast by CNN on April 22, 2019 that she is in favor of decriminalizing sex work.

“So what I don't support is criminalizing these women,” Harris said.

“But we should not be criminalizing women who are engaged in consensual opportunities for employment,” Harris said. “But we should definitely be careful and be sure that they are not being trafficked or abused in any way.”

Here is a transcript of the part of Harris’s April 22, 2019 town hall on CNN where she explained her position on the legalization of sex work:

Question: “You have told The Root that you support legalizing sex work. How will you ensure that sex workers are doing this work because they want to and not because they have no opportunity to do other work, given that sex workers often come from marginalized communities?”

Kamala Harris: “No, that's right. So what I don't support is criminalizing these women. And so my background, as you know, I was a prosecutor. When I was district attorney of San Francisco, I instituted a number of policies that were focused on women and children and how they were treated frankly with bias in the criminal justice system where they were criminalized without really looking at the real offender. And so often in that case was the pimps and the johns, but instead the women were being arrested as prostitutes. And so I created policies that were about saying that we really need to focus on the other folks and not just on the women.

“I was responsible for an initiative in San Francisco that was about recognizing that girls who are being trafficked were being called teenage prostitutes, when, in fact, they were the victims of an incredible amount of abuse and had been trafficked. And so I created a whole policy in San Francisco that was, one, intended to stop calling them teenage prostitutes, but instead to call them sexually exploited youth.

“And because of the work that we did, we then created a safe house for these young women, so that instead of them being arrested and put in juvenile hall, they would be in a safe house, and then we were responsible for actually getting legislation passed that said that when those johns and pimps are prosecuted, they should be prosecuted in connection with the sale of a child, again, looking at what we need to do to figure out who's doing what.

“As it relates to women who are being trafficked, I was one of the leaders in the country with many others in saying that Backpage needed to be put out of business, because they were in the business of basically allowing the trafficking, in particular of underage girls.

“So this is something that I have had a lifelong experience with, including what we need to go after those who traffic girls and women and boys. We should also be clear about that. And I take it very seriously. But we should not be criminalizing women who are engaged in consensual opportunities for employment. But we should definitely be careful and be sure that they are not being trafficked or abused in any way.”

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