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Our ED Responds: NYC Mayor Recommends Law That Would Decriminalize Sex Trade



NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Recommends Law That Would Decriminalize Sex Trade and Turn New York into Sex Tourism Destination

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Urges the Mayor to Remove Section in NYPD Plan Endorsing Impunity for Sex Buyers and Exploiters in Sex Trade 

New York, March 30, 2021The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’s Executive Director Taina Bien-Aimé has issued the following statement in response to policy proposals in the “Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Draft Plan” approved by the New York City Council on March 25:  

“The Plan, developed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, includes 36 proposals for public comment about developing “fair, just, transparent, and accountable policing.” Part 2 calls to “explore and refine proposals related to sex work programming, services, and decriminalization.” The public should know that “sex work” is a euphemism for the sex trade, including prostitution. Through this Plan, Mayor de Blasio is de facto supporting sex trade decriminalization, which would greenlight sex buying, sex tourism, commercial sex establishments and third-party profiteers. Its underpinning is the de Blasio’s administration’s purported recognition of prostitution as legitimate “work” and the sex trade as a viable employer for the most vulnerable people in our city.

New York City prides itself on hosting the headquarters of the United Nations, whose member states have ratified international conventions committed to protecting human rights. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children mandates governments, including the United States, to implement legislative, educational, social or cultural measures to target the demand that fosters exploitation leading to human trafficking. Demand from sex buyers for prostitution creates the financial engine for sex trafficking. Mayor de Blasio’s call to relieve sex buyers of any accountability under the law violates these international principles.

It’s tragic that while jurisdictions in the U.S. and around the world are enacting or examining laws that prevent sex trafficking, Mayor de Blasio proposes one that would explode the growth of the sex trade. We support providing services to prostituted individuals and call for an end to their arrests and incarceration. However, taking into account the dire repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, what de Blasio’s  administration is proposing is the creation of a legal marketplace for men to purchase sexual access at-will to the most marginalized and choiceless among us. 

In addition to sex buyers, the global multi-billion-dollar sex trade relies on gender, sex, economic and racial inequalities to function. Reflective of global patterns, disenfranchised Black, Latina and Asian women and girls, trans women and trans youth, are overwhelmingly represented in the sex trade, bought and sold in New York City.To invite the sex trade as a legitimate profit-making enterprise in the city is regressive and reminiscent of the darkest legacies of our history.

Despite myriad, multi-year efforts by sex trade survivors, women’s rights advocates, anti-trafficking organizations and direct service providers to educate the Mayor and his agencies on these human rights violations, they still fail to understand the mechanics of the sex trade and the lifelong harms it inflicts on prostituted and trafficked women and girls.  

CATW and its partners, including the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition and New Yorkers for the Equality Model, call for the immediate removal of Section 5 of the Plan that supports decriminalization of the sex trade and impunity for sex buyers and exploiters.”



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