Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

TW: Rape, Violence

    Our generation’s growing involvement in feminism and activism has led us to a time of growth in sexual liberation. Topics of sex have became less taboo and led to more open and safe discussions. However, if the lives of sex workers are not valued and protected, our activism must continue.

What exactly is sex work? The first step in creating a safe space for sex workers is recognizing that sex work, is in fact, work. Sex work is a consensual act, in which an adult receives money in exchange for taking place in sexual acts. If what is taking place is voluntary and consensual between both parties, why is this considered a crime? The stigma and marginalization of sex workers makes them subjagated to violence and the violation of their human rights. Cases of rape, abuse, and murder are not taken seriously and the humanity of sex workers and autonomy over their own bodies is being removed by the surrounded stigma. Decriminalizing sex work would help remove the stigmas creating a safer atmosphere for those who choose this field of work.

 Since sex work can put people in such vunerable situations, things can often become very dangerous. Criminalizing sex work makes it difficult for sex workers to push towards justice and makes them more vulnerable to being victims of assault, rape, and murder. In research recorded by HG Legal Resources, they say that “the death rate for [sex workers] in the U.S. is 204 out of every 100,000.” Decriminalizing sex work would allow them to report crimes without the fear of being ignored and then murdered by the person they may be trying to report.

Sex workers have also said that they have been in situations with the police where they have been harassed, threatened, and bribed. Policing certain areas where sex work frequently takes place also pushes them to find more private settings that potentially puts them in physically dangerous scenarios. I think that it is important that police go through more sensitivity training so that they will ensure the safety of sex workers and take their reports seriously rather than targeting them further. The lack of confidence in police leads to sex workers feeling neglected and turned away from seeking justice.

Decriminalizing sex work brings up the question; will this make it easier for sex trafficking to take place? Not necessarily, this could be quite the opposite. As we have already talked about how decriminalizing sex work will allow people to report crimes easier, this gives them a greater opportunity to speak to police and escape trafficking. Since before they would have to fear being arrested for their work if they spoke out against the people abusing and exploiting them. I would even say that decriminalzing sex work is the most critical part in reducing trafficking, because this would allow for sex workers to have a voice and recognition without fear of receiving a criminal record themselves. Systems should already be in place to protect the people reporting sex trafficking and offer harm reduction and support to remove them from this situation.


Brittney Plusnick

Coastal Carolina '23

Brittney Plusnick is an undergraduate student at Coastal Carolina University, majoring in English. In her free time she enjoys writing, traveling, and spending time by the ocean.