ON MAY 18, the New Hampshire Union Leader published an oped “Sex work is not work” by Jasmine Grace, founder of Jasmine Grace Outreach, one of many organizations raising awareness about human trafficking by conflating it with adult consensual prostitution.

Among many things, Ms. Grace asks us to “Look at what happened in Rhode Island when they decriminalized ‘indoor’ prostitution for nearly 30 years.”

What she is referring to is a judicial decision in the 1970s that declared Rhode Island’s prostitution laws unconstitutional due to flagrant gender discrimination. Rhode Island legislators failed to correct the statute and simply removed it from the books. In 2003, an attorney noticed the loophole and between 2003-2009 indoor sex work was in fact decriminalized.

Researchers have looked into this unintended experiment and, contrary to what Ms. Grace would have you believe, found some startlingly positive results. Reported rapes of women in Rhode Island dropped 40% and rates of gonorrhea dropped 30%. Around the world human rights advocates, researchers, and even the World Health Organization have pointed to the Rhode Island experiment in their advocacy for the full decriminalization of sex work.

Right now there is a bill in Rhode Island proposing a closer study of the 2003-2009 data, and research from around the world, to see which legal framework for prostitution best promotes health and safety. A similar study commission is being considered in Vermont and issues central to sex workers’ well being are currently in front of the New Hampshire Legislature. New Zealand fully decriminalized adult consensual prostitution in 2003, and studies consistently show a dramatic reduction in human trafficking, violence and exploitation within the sex industry. A study released in 2017 found that the introduction of craigslist erotic services correlated with a drop in female homicides by 17% across major cities.

We’re pleased states are looking into this research, but we already know what they will find: decriminalizing sex work improves health and safety.

Ms. Grace, and many like her, were exploited in an obviously abusive relationship. We need better victims’ services in New Hampshire, and around the country, to help victims of labor trafficking and domestic violence. We do not need to police adults who engage in consensual prostitution.

Contrary to what Ms. Grace believes, all kinds of people do sex work. Some feel exploited and unhappy. Others are in fact, “liberated and independent business owners.” Regardless of how people feel about their work, no one wants to be arrested for trying to make a living.

We know what black markets do to economies. Pushing the sex trade underground hasn’t made it go away, it’s only made it more dangerous for everyone involved. Pimps, like bootleggers and dangerous cartels, thrive in the black market. In order to empower sex workers and put coercive pimps out of business we need the full decriminalization of adult consensual prostitution.

The people advocating for the full decriminalization of sex work are human rights advocates and sex workers themselves. I should know, I’m one of them.

Kaytlin Bailey is director of communication for Decriminalize Sex Work, lives in New York City, and works with Granite State advocates including SWOP NH.

Friday, January 22, 2021

THIS PAST WEEK when the New Hampshire House gathered in a parking lot at UNH to begin our 2021 session, last term’s speaker, Rep. Steve Shurtleff, attempted to amend our House rules by banning the carrying of arms in the State House and House Chamber. It reminded me of a discussion I had wit…

Thursday, January 21, 2021

PUBLIC RANCOR and divisiveness are palpable. Any public comment risks being twisted and turned like a pretzel into something it is not. But we need to continue to have critical dialogues as a society. As one famous politician stated, “The antidote to bad speech is more speech, not less.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A CELEBRATION is upon us. On Wednesday, Kamala Harris will become the highest-ranking woman in the presidential line of succession, the first Black and South Asian woman to serve as vice-president. She has shattered the glass ceiling women have been trying to kick through for decades.

THE TOP THREE questions on the mind of most Americans are, how could so many people follow President Donald Trump, how did we get to an attempted coup and, most importantly, who will save us? I genuinely believe I have the answers and, you should know, this knowledge was acquired over the co…

Monday, January 18, 2021

OVER THE PAST YEAR, the Nashua Board of Education has responded to the pandemic with an abundance of caution, presumed to be driven by good faith concern. Now, however, parents and students of the district are no longer able to assume good faith concern.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

IN NOVEMBER, Chris Sununu won a landslide victory. Gerrymandered districts gave him Republican majorities in the legislature and the Executive Council, providing him with support for an agenda he had not been able to carry out during the preceding two years.

Friday, January 15, 2021

IMMIGRANTS have faced tremendous attacks for years, not just during the Trump administration. The immigration system, founded on White supremacy, no longer works and is destroying the lives of many immigrants and their families.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE House of Representatives has made some interesting history these past few months by meeting outdoors on a UNH ballfield and then drive-in style at a UNH parking lot. I think it is to their credit that House leadership has been successfully creative, and fiscally responsible…

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

THIS WEEK was a tough week for me because I had to make a difficult decision after the attack on the Capitol on Wednesday. A lifelong Republican, I went to my town hall the day after the attack and put in a change-of-party form to change my affiliation to undeclared.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

WHAT RADICALIZED YOU? It’s a question posed by progressive activists online to spur others to action by making you think about why you believe what you believe.