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Oregon House holds hearing on bill that would decriminalize prostitution in the state

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The Oregon State Digest
The Oregon State Digest
 2021-06-04

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(SALEM, Ore.) On Thursday, Oregon’s House Judiciary Committee held an informational hearing on House Bill 3088, which would decriminalize prostitution in Oregon, KATU reports.

The bill would reverse the laws around prostitution, promotion of prostitution and commercial sex solicitation.

State Rep. Rob Nosse, a member of the Oregon Sex Workers Human Rights Commission, is sponsoring the bill. The commission will hold a public hearing on decriminalizing sex work in July.

Supporters of the bill held a news conference on Thursday after the hearing.

A sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Barbara Brents, explained how the decriminalization of sex work could help prevent human trafficking situations from occurring.

“Forced coercion sex trafficking is relatively rare, but it’s bad when it happens,” Brents said. “But the evidence is really clear that arresting sex workers or their clients does not help. In fact, it increases risk and it may push sex workers by choice into a trafficking situation.”

Because Oregon’s 2021 legislative session ends at the end of this month, it’s unlikely that the bill will have time to be considered by the full Legislature. Supporters say that despite this, they’re glad a conversation is being started around decriminalization.

National groups like Demand Abolition and World Without Exploitation have spoken out against legalization of prostitution. They argue it can’t be separate from exploitation and won’t prevent issues like violence and human trafficking.

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