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00:03: Progressive activists and politicians across the country are pushing to decriminalize prostitution,
00:09: promoting so-called sex work as real work.
00:12: Meanwhile, opponents, including some former participants in the sex trade, say decriminalization is not the answer.
00:19: I also feel like you're going to kind of open the market for prostitution and pints, and
00:24: I just feel like the market's just going to grow and get bigger.
00:28: In this episode, we hear first-hand accounts from a former prostitute, a police chief and
00:32: the throes of a prostitution legalization initiative, and others about how this effort affects communities and victims of sex trafficking.
00:41: I'm daily wire editor and chief John Bickley with Georgia Howe.
00:44: It's June 4th, and this is a Sunday edition of Morning Wire.
00:52: Joining us to discuss the movement toward decriminalizing prostitution is daily wire reporter
00:57: Amanda Prestige-Jacquamo. So Amanda, first give us some background on this effort to effectively
01:02: legalize prostitution and how that intersects with sex trafficking.
01:06: Yeah, well a lot has changed in the framing of this issue over the past decade or two. Back in 2002,
01:12: then President George W. Bush signed a National Security Presidential Directive,
01:16: outlining the U.S. government's strong position against legalizing prostitution.
01:21: Now that was based on evidence that prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanizing.
01:26: that it fuels sex trafficking, which the government classified as a form of modern-day slavery.
01:32: In 2004, the State Department said that prostitution fuels the growth of this modern-day slavery
01:37: by providing a facade for pimp's and sex traffickers, stating, quote,
01:41: where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims
01:47: and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial
01:52: sex slavery. To that point of child sex trafficking, some studies
01:56: have estimated that the average age a child is first exploited through prostitution ranges
02:02: from 12 to 14 years old. Now there's some disagreement on these numbers just because of the nature
02:07: of the crime as you can imagine, but just really horrific stuff. Moving on in 2015, the
02:13: State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons echoed that same
02:18: anti-prostitution language, tying prostitution to sex trafficking and advocating for the promotion
02:24: of policies and cultural norms that quote, disallow paying for sex.
02:29: But now we're seeing the atmosphere really change politically speaking.
02:33: Yeah, that's right. Fast forward to today.
02:35: And activists and prominent politicians are promoting the decriminalization of what they call sex work.
02:41: They argue that prostitution is not inherently dehumanizing.
02:44: And this can be done without exploitation. And as such, it's no different than any other work.
02:49: work and by decriminalizing that, you're helping generally speaking women.
02:54: They also make a distinction between decriminalizing prostitution and legalizing it.
02:59: If prostitution is decriminalized, it would technically remain illegal, they say, but the
03:04: legal system would not prosecute people for engaging in the act.
03:07: There could be no penalties tied to the act or a civil fine, for example, whereas legalization
03:13: would remove all legal prohibitions against prostitution.
03:16: just how mainstream is this push to decriminalize prostitution today?
03:22: Well, this certainly is not a fringe movement anymore.
03:25: Let's start at the top.
03:26: Our current vice president, Kamala Harris, has gone on record saying she believes prostitution should be decriminalized.
03:32: That's really a flip for Harris that seemed to come from public pressure from the far left.
03:38: Remember, Harris was a prosecutor who once bragged that she, and this is a
03:42: quote, led the fight against back page and other sex trafficking platforms. Other mainstream
03:47: politicians, mostly all Democrats are on board with this movement too. At the least, they're
03:52: saying that decriminalization of prostitution should be considered or they're parading that
03:58: sex work is work mantra. This includes the likes of New York representative Alexandria
04:02: Acasio Cortez, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts
04:09: Senator Elizabeth Warren, the last three of whom are former presidential candidates.
04:13: Right. And we can add Democratic governor Gavin Newsom to this list. Last summer,
04:17: Newsom signed a highly controversial bill into law, SB 357. And this has effectively become a
04:24: case study on decriminalizing prostitution. The law backed by Democratic state Senator Scott
04:29: Weiner and the ACLU decriminalized loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. Weiner claims
04:36: the law is a protection for trans and black and brown women, whom he claims are harassed by police for merely their identity.
04:43: Here's the state senator in his own words making the claim that SB 357 is necessary.
04:49: Why would we have criminal law allow a police officer to arrest you, based exclusively on
04:55: how you look, not on what you do?
04:57: That's wrong.
04:58: We shouldn't have that kind of law on the books and the police have plenty of tools to
05:02: the ill-trafficking and they should be doing more work to address human trafficking and less concerning.
05:09: Now, those on the other side of this issue just flat out disagree with that premise.
05:14: And by the way, these aren't all people of one political persuasion.
05:17: There were even some California Democrats who warned against SB 357 before it was signed into law.
05:23: The Nessau Russell founder of an anti-sex trafficking nonprofit called Love Never Fails pushed back
05:29: on Senator Wiener's narrative during an appearance on East Town Church's YouTube channel.
05:33: The reason why black women and LGBTQ plus people are disproportionately represented in prostitution stings in arrests is because they are disproportionately trafficked.
05:45: And so to me, that is the greater issue.
05:47: Why are we not providing necessary services to provide exit for trafficked victims,
05:54: for people who do not want to be sold for sex?
05:59: and unfortunately the agenda of Scott Weiner and the ACLU is that they want to promote
06:07: an agenda called sex work is work and they are strong believers in full decriminalization
06:14: meaning no one gets arrested in the sex buying food chain meaning not the victim, not the buyer and not the exploiter.
06:23: I also spoke to San Diego police chief David Nizlite.
06:27: his officers are on the ground seeing first hand the effects from this law.
06:31: And here's what he had to say about this disparity issue Senator Weiner talks about.
06:36: This is primarily a complaint driven issue. Law enforcement, we deal with behavior,
06:41: we deal with criminal behavior. So if we constantly get a complaint every single day about the
06:45: behavior out there, we go out there to who is doing the activity. And so is there a disparity
06:51: about who is being contacted out there as far as people of color. Yes, but that's in my
06:57: area and I'm going only specifically talk about San Diego. That's who we contact. That's
07:02: who's involved in this criminal behavior. There's other ways to look at what is causing
07:07: this disparity. Why is it that these people are out here involved in sex trafficking? Are
07:12: they there because they want to be? Or are they there because they're being forced into
07:16: this business. And so again, we can look at this differently, but we shouldn't be risking
07:21: life of young women because of that. And he's really seen it on the ground there. Okay,
07:26: so SB 357 has been in effect for months now. How is that playing out on the ground?
07:32: Chief Nizlite told me the law has really hamstrung officers in San Diego from cracking down
07:37: on sex trafficking, which he said was completely predictable.
07:41: It's made it extremely difficult.
07:43: I mean, so in the past, when we were able to contact women or those involved in sex trafficking,
07:49: we could use the lording within 10 after we watched them.
07:53: What's the decriminalize that?
07:55: We really don't have an entryway into making that contact anymore.
07:59: What we're seeing now is we have these open sex markets, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
08:06: These open sex markets as Chief Niz Lightputt, of course, are affecting the surrounding
08:10: communities. There have been dozens of local news reports in California revealing rampant
08:15: prostitution happening outside schools and in neighborhoods where mothers are pushing
08:20: their babies and strollers and so on. Here are some residents in a San Francisco neighborhood
08:25: describing such prostitution issues to a local Fox affiliate. Violence of the pimps that
08:32: they not only intimidate the women and men handle them aggressively, they also sometimes intimidate
08:40: the neighbors noise it brings at night. I mean, I wake up multiple times a week at night.
08:47: My kids of miss school, I've missed work. It's and it's the Johns driving by in their car,
08:53: racing back and forth, turning their music on, having side shows with their cars.
08:59: Tooth Nizlay emphasized that this hurts sex trafficking victims the most in echo of this view our government used to hold.
09:07: It's also making it for those that will traffic women, specifically younger women, for them
09:12: to put them out there with now to reduce their chance of being caught.
09:16: Then those that are put out there involuntary has made it much harder for us to rescue those victims.
09:22: And so what we're seeing is a spike in this type of behavior.
09:26: You know, and just because you decrymly something doesn't mean the impact on the victim, those
09:31: that are being trafficked or on the community goes away.
09:33: In fact, and sometimes like this, it increases.
09:36: Now advocates for decriminalizing prostitution often complain that so-called sex workers
09:42: are not part of these conversations when it comes to laws against selling sex.
09:46: They claim these women, men too, but they typically talk in terms of women, are happy and unharmed
09:52: selling sex and therefore law enforcement should not be involved.
09:56: I wanted to kind of go down this avenue, so I spoke to former prostitute Brittany Dailamora
10:01: about her time as a prostitute for over four years,
10:04: starting when she was just 21 years old.
10:06: Even before that, Brittany was selling sex.
10:08: At 18 years of age, she was working in the porn industry.
10:12: Brittany told me her pimple was her boyfriend
10:14: and that she was never coerced into prostitution, though she did express to me, feeling trapped by her past choices.
10:21: I was in a relationship with a guy right before the pimple
10:24: and he was stabbed to death and trying to meet.
10:27: I was living with him.
10:28: So after that, I basically had nowhere to live.
10:31: Honestly, at first I didn't want to have a relationship with a
10:34: PIMP, but I literally had nowhere to go.
10:37: And he gave me a place to stay about five months into that relationship.
10:43: This man encouraged Brittany to sell her body.
10:45: I didn't really want to do it, but I just kind of was in this
10:49: place where I felt like these are the choices that I've made
10:52: with my life. And I didn't really see a way out. I didn't
10:55: really see how I could come out of that. So I just I kind of
10:58: accepted his guidance and I went back to Port and Presetation.
11:02: Brittany, who was now a devout Christian, told me it was an encounter with God that gave
11:06: her the push to get out of the industry.
11:09: After she left with the help of her mother, her home was robbed.
11:12: She believes it was her pimp.
11:14: I have my thesis, especially to believe it was him because it was like, you know, the
11:18: safe with the code and everything that he knew was opened.
11:21: And so, yeah, I think he did that to scare me because he wanted me to feel like I couldn't do life without him.
11:27: I just pushed through and I did not go back to him.
11:31: I asked Brittany about the others she encountered who were also selling sex.
11:35: She acknowledged this theme of vulnerable and broken women, even for those whom she said were not forced into prostitution.
11:42: I didn't personally meet anybody that was pressured.
11:45: I mean, there's definitely some manipulation that goes on with the pims they prey on vulnerable young girls.
11:52: We know that they prey on teenagers, but the women that I met were all adults that were
11:56: vulnerable. They came from broken childhoods. And so they were kind of inclined to this way of life
12:02: because when you've been abused as a child and you haven't healed from that, you often choose a
12:06: life of abuse. You just subconsciously attract what you think you deserve. Now coming out of that
12:11: line of work, I met women that say that they were forced, they were pressured, maybe they were
12:17: runaways and just was kind of the life that they fell into, not by choice.
12:22: Brini told me she wasn't sure how to best handle prostitution in the legal sense and thought
12:27: the issue should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Women who are forced into the industry
12:32: should not be criminalized, she said. But decriminalizing the whole industry is probably not the best solution.
12:39: If I had gotten arrested when I was doing what I was doing, I think that it absolutely
12:43: would have changed me. I know that it would have changed the course of my life. I mean,
12:47: maybe I would have continued with porn, but I would have stopped prostituting.
12:51: Brittany is the mother. She's married to a Christian pastor and a lot of her life's work is dedicated
12:56: to helping people transition out of prostitution and porn, which I think speaks to her own experience.
13:02: The couple does this through their nonprofit called Love Always Ministries.
13:06: So her past experience really inspired her to be an activist on this issue. Final question,
13:10: what are the latest statistics on prostitution in the US? Just how many people are we talking about here?
13:16: Well, as you'd expect, we don't know for sure, but the estimates range between one and two million.
13:21: That's in the US. Worldwide estimates are more than 40 million people.
13:26: And we should note that a significant percentage of traffic children are boys.
13:30: So again, this isn't just a female issue. This industry can victimize anyone.
13:35: In the end, this all really comes back to this one question.
13:37: Is sex work inherently deshumanizing and inseparable from breeding exploitation?
13:42: Or is it merely work? And if there is non-exploitative sex work, how is that separated out from abuse and
13:48: trafficking? Would victims be a sacrifice of this movement as they seem to be in California?
13:53: It will all crucial questions that have to play into policy decisions on this issue.
13:57: Amanda, thanks for reporting. Thanks for having me.
14:00: That was Daily Wire reporter Amanda Prestige-Jacamo and this has been a Sunday edition of Morning Wire.