Image of papers being signed
Signing papers. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I support the decriminalization of sex work. But I do not support decriminalization for buyers only. And that’s exactly what the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 does as written. That’s like saying slave owners can’t be arrested for buying or selling people. Sex work is coercion. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I’ve known many people in the business over the years, and not one of them wanted to be there. It’s a choice for economic gain. But it’s still coercion. It is not a happy job. It is a job of last resort. 

We cannot pass this bill. It is harmful and discriminatory, and it is not what my community and city represent. More than 170 people signed up to testify at the 14-hour hearing for the bill last month, and many agreed with me.  

I beg you to revisit this issue and get it right in the name of human rights. We do not need to create another life-sucking Wall Street-tradable industry. As an American Black woman, it is an affront that “consensual sex,” as presented by a councilperson totally negates and ignores the thousands of enslaved black women, who had no choice but to sleep with the “White Massa.” No, you cannot pass this law to reinstitute another systemically strategically constructed one-sided high-tech Jim Crow Renaissance.  

Do not further debase, denigrate, disrespect, erode or destroy the fragile freedom gained. Nor should the rewritten man-made definition of what consensual sex is be changed to accommodate and protect a “buyer.” Our laws must serve and protect all of us. 

If the DC Council passes this law as written, they are saying sex workers are less than equal, not human, and can be treated any kind of way. We would normalize an immoral, irresponsible, evil practice. I support the decriminalization of sex work, but this bill needs to be amended to apply to everyone involved. It has to be fair. 

D.C. must do better, and we can. 

Angie Whitehurst is an artist/vendor for Street Sense Media.