Despite the Council of the District of Columbia's latest lack of action, an advocate against sexual exploitation says the legalization of trafficking women and children is an effort that hasn't died.
The council was considering a measure to decriminalize trafficking, but Charles Allen, who is chair of the D.C. council's judiciary committee, has announced it will not be moving forward with that effort. Haley Halverson, vice president of advocacy and outreach for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, calls it a victory.
"It's even worse than legalization of prostitution," she tells OneNewsNow. "It means that there's no laws on the books about pimping, sex buying, brothel keeping, etc. There's not even any pretense of protection. It's really just unleashing the market and growing the market of sexual exploitation."
Halverson's organization helped form opposition to the proposal, and the public responded.
"There was really a decisive public hearing on October 17th that lasted over ten hours," she reports. "Four of our staff members testified, as well as many direct service providers and … survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking." The latter, she says, provided the most moving testimony.
The measure is off the agenda for now, but it could be revived. In fact, city Councilman David Grosso, who sponsored the measure, is suggesting that it be placed on a future election ballot.
"The goal should be to shrink the sex trade and not to legitimize it," Halverson contends.
She says research documents the industry's harm to women and children, and those harms would not be reduced by decriminalization.