Weed Washing

End Demand: a prohibitionist approach to the sex trade

At the time of this research in 2018, the police, city and county prosecutor’s offices, and a handful of select anti-trafficking programs were all funded by an anti-prostitution group, Demand Abolition. This foundation, led by the singular interests and money from an oil heiress, promotes the End Demand approach to the sex trade including the Nordic Model. Modeled after a Swedish approach, End Demand policies increase criminalization of clients of the sex trade. The ideology backing this approach promotes that the entire sex trade is exploitative and therefore all sex workers are victims and all buyers are exploiters. What End Demand advocates fail to recognize is that even if only buyers face arrest, both sex workers and clients are still impacted.

Same strategies, new name

Marijuana legalization means that prosecutor offices and police departments are no longer receiving large amounts of revenue from marijuana convictions and have less of an excuse to over-police communities of color. What an opportune time for Demand Abolition to approach these political stakeholders with an offer to address the “terrifying amount” of sex trafficking that is happening in their district, especially within communities of color.[1] Prosecutor’s offices and police departments don’t have to change their strategy at all, and Demand Abolition will provide the smoke and mirrors.

Seattle: a case study

From 2015–2018, the King County DA’s office instituted an interim Nordic Model protocol, saying they would not charge sex workers with prostitution. It gave police carte blanche within their interactions with sex workers — a scary thought given that half of the marginalized women within our study reported experiencing police harassment and abuse.

What this means for us now during COVID19

Imprisonment and detention leaves people vulnerable to COVID19 infection, and jails and prisons aren’t prepared to handle COVID19 infected prisoners. Many jails and detention centers are releasing small amounts of ‘low risk’ detainees who are in for survival crimes, affirming that jails punish rather than alleviate poverty. Seattle is among a handful of cities that aren’t arresting on misdemeanor charges. Rather, after experiencing police contact which increases their risk of contamination, people are being ticketed and told to appear at a later date. We continue to shift enforcement and punishment, rather than re-examine the efficacy of criminal legal approaches.

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Reframe Health and Justice

Reframe Health and Justice

A collective of individuals dedicated to reframing the sociopolitical paradigms through which we understand race, gender, health, and justice.