’s current approach to sex work is not working

The District, like most jurisdictions, has long had criminal penalties for consensual sexual
exchange. Although widely used, such an approach has never worked – instead it only serves
to harm those most vulnerable while fostering violence and exploitation.

 Research shows that over 80% of street-based sex workers experience violence in the
course of their work.
 In D.C., one in five sex workers has been approached by police asking them for sex.
 These individuals are often experiencing homelessness and are just trying to meet their
basic needs (shelter, food, hygiene).
 Criminalization of sex work has a greater negative impact on groups already facing
discrimination, including communities of color, gay and trans people, people with
disabilities, immigrants, and people with criminal convictions.
Removing criminal penalties for engaging in sexual exchange reduces public violence
and protects sex workers. People in the sex trade are safest when their work is not
criminalized, because they are able to screen clients, to negotiate safer sex practices,
and to report incidents of client and police violence.

It’s time for a change in our approach

Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Health & Safety Amendment Act of 2017:

 Eliminates criminal prohibition and penalties for sex work;
 Retains prohibitions on coercion or exploitation, including current law on minor
involvement in commercial sex and human trafficking law; and
 Creates a task force to evaluate the effect of removing the criminal penalties and
recommend further efforts to promote public safety and health and human rights.

Councilmember David Grosso is proud to collaborate with the Sex Workers Advocacy
Coalition on the Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Safety and Health
Amendment Act of 2017. The organizations who make up the coalition bring unique
perspectives to this issue and can provide additional expertise about the need for a
rethinking of how the District of Columbia approaches sex work.

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Section by section
Section 101 repeals “An Act for the suppression of prostitution in the District of Columbia”
(August 15, 1935):

 Engaging in prostitution or soliciting for prostitution (§ 22-2701, § 22-2703)
 Property subject to seizure, vehicle impoundment (§ 22-2723 through § 22-2725)

Section 102 repeals sections of “An Act in relation to pandering, to define and prohibit the
same and to provide for the Punishment thereof” (June 25, 1910):

 Repeals “Pandering; inducing or compelling an individual to engage in prostitution.” (§
22-2705 )
 Adds “compelling an individual to engage in prostitution” language from 22-2705 to
“Compelling an individual to live life of prostitution against his or her will.” (§ 22–2706)
 Repeals:
o Procuring; receiving money or other valuable thing for arranging assignation. (§
o Detaining an individual in disorderly house for debt there contracted. (§ 22–2709)
o Procuring for house of prostitution. (§ 22–2710)
o Procuring for third persons. (§ 22–2711)
o Operating house of prostitution. (§ 22–2712)

Section 103 repeals the section relating to prostitution of “An Act to enjoin and abate houses of
lewdness, assignation, and prostitution; to declare the same to be nuisances; to enjoin the
person or persons who conduct or maintain the same and the owner or agent of any building
used for such purpose; and to assess a tax against the person maintaining said nuisance and
against the building and owner thereof” (February 7, 1914) leaving it applicable to drugs:

 Premises occupied for lewdness, assignation, or prostitution declared nuisance. (§ 22–

Sec 104 repeals the section on keeping a bawdy house of “An Act to confer concurrent
jurisdiction on the police court of the District of Columbia in certain cases” (July 16, 1912):

 Keeping bawdy or disorderly houses. (§ 22–2722)

Establishes a task force to evaluate the effect of removing the criminal penalties and
recommend further efforts to promote public safety and health and human rights.

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