The vice president-elect’s stance on sex job-related is more facility than what’s shown in one interview.

Published11 November 2020

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In a February 2019 interview, then-U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris dubbed for the legalization that prostitution.

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What"s TrueIn a 2019 interview, Harris proclaimed that sex work need to be decriminalized yet with caveats. This stood for a dramatic shift for her, as she had actually previously supported efforts against decriminalizing sex work.


What"s False

However, decriminalization is not the exact same as legalization. Decriminalization entails removing criminal sanctions on an action or behavior, while legalization is the procedure of removing legitimate prohibitions versus it.


What"s Undetermined

Analysts translate Harris’ shifting stance together an indicator the she may at this time support some form of decriminalization, however the specific policies continue to be to it is in seen.


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When democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was chosen to the place of vice president of the United states on Nov. 7, 2020, her previous stances and policies received additional scrutiny, specifically from conservative media outlets. One excerpt from one certain interview with The source in February 2019 to be picked personally by a conservative Christian YouTube channel, for Such A Time as This, and shared throughout the election season to support cases that Harris supported the legalization the prostitution.

gendergeek.org readers shared with united state the following video from in march 2019, which reflects the host, James Pittman, criticizing Harris for her comments in her interview through The Root. Countless readers asked whether it to be true that Harris was in favor that legalizing prostitution. Us learned the the answer is complicated.


However, Pittman’s evaluation misrepresents Harris’ view on sex work. Pittman cases that through “legalizing” prostitution Harris is imagining an “industry the prostitutes” where world would “not get harmed,” when the act of prostitution itself, that says, is inherently “harming women.”


But what did Harris actually say in her interview? listed below is a partial transcript of the conversation through reporter Terrell Jermaine Starr:

Starr: execute you think the sex work-related ought to be decriminalized?

Harris: i think so, ns do. I think that we have to understand though that it is no as straightforward as that, the is also around and there is one ecosystem approximately that that consists of crimes that harm people and also for those problems I carry out not believe that anybody that hurts an additional human gift or profits off of their exploitation should be admonished or have to be free of criminal prosecution. But when you talking about consenting adults I think the <…> correct we need to really think about that us can’t criminalize consensual behavior as long as nobody is gift harmed. Yet at the point that anyone’s gift harmed or exploited then ns think we have to understand that’s a various matter.

Harris was talking around the decriminalization of sex work and also not the legalization. Decriminalization means that carrying out an plot or behavior will no longer land that human being with a jail sentence or criminal record. Legalization, on the other hand, is the process of removing every legal prohibitions to that act or behavior. 

In the same interview, she handle her occupational as the mountain Francisco ar attorney: “I to be advocating then that we have to stop arresting this prostitutes, and instead pursue the johns and the pimps <…> us were criminalizing the women, but not the guys who linked with it, that were make money off of it or profiting off of it.”

She showed up to it is in propagating what analysts describe as the Nordic design of partly decriminalizing sex work, which criminalizes the buyers that sex and not those who offer it. The on purpose of together a policy is to cut demand because that prostitution by targeting buyers of what many say is an inherently violent and also cruel trade. But the outcomes of adopting this model have been mixed approximately the world, and also critics argue that it does not take into account the rights of workers who get in this profession by choice.

Harris’ 2019 comments to be a drastic transition from her past actions. Earlier in 2008 as soon as she was district attorney, she to be a vocal foe of Proposition K, a ballot measure up intended to decriminalize prostitution in san Francisco. She dubbed the initiative “completely ridiculous” and also said, “It would put a welcome mat out for pimps and also prostitutes come come on into San Francisco.” earlier then she suggested that it would expose prostitutes to drugs, guns, and sexual crimes. However supporters that the measure, consisting of sex workers, said that Prop K would permit them come organize, negotiate for better wages and also working conditions, as well as make your occupation more secure and more legitimate.

As California’s attorney general, Harris was likewise instrumental in curbing websites that held classified ads for sex-related services prefer Backpage.com, in an initiative to tackle kid trafficking. Through 2017, the website’s adult section was removed but a new York time report uncovered that this had done tiny to address the difficulty of smuggling on the site. In she 2019 interview v The Root, right before her comments on decriminalizing sex work, she doubled under on she actions against the site:

Backpage was offering advertisement for the revenue of children, that minors. And, uneven Craigslist, which claimed we’re going to avoid doing it, the human being who were running Backpage usually thumbed their sleep at us and also kept doing it, making money turn off of the revenue of youth, and also so I dubbed for them to be shut down. And I have actually no regrets around that. Now, top top the issue of giving a safe place for sex workers — ns am a substantial advocate for that, always have been.

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In 2017 and 2018, together a senator, she supported anti-sex trafficking legislation meant to defend victims the sex trafficking online which additionally targeted Backpage.com. Yet anti-trafficking advocates and sex workers claimed the legislation would exacerbate the problem due to the fact that it did no distinguish in between those that were trafficking victims and those that were legit sex workers. Proponents said this would hurt their initiatives to aid people within the sex profession who to be being trafficked. Sex workers argued that this would likewise harm their resource of income and also force castle to depend on less safe forums to advertise and also conduct their services. Indeed, according to The Appeal, the crackdown did do sex workers more vulnerable and also marginalized.

Like countless politicians, Harris’ views have changed over time, yet many stay mistrustful of this about-face offered her monitor record. Since she shows up to be advocating because that partial decriminalization, the details of exactly how she would certainly go around this space yet to be determined, and her original comments to be misrepresented, we price this insurance claim a “Mixture.”