Much like safe injection sites, shouldn’t Seattle create safety for sex workers?

Nov 9, 2018, 5:02 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2018, 9:33 pm
Sex workers on Aurora, vaccine...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

A recent report from KIRO 7 on sex workers on Seattle’s infamous Aurora Ave. pulled back the curtain on the increased dangers in the profession. But is there a way the city could actually help?

RELATED: Kent PD shuts down 18 massage parlors for illegal prostitution

KIRO 7’s report paints a harrowing picture of the dangers sex workers face on a daily — and nightly — basis.

“Women who experience prostitution have a rate of PTSD that’s twice that of returning war veterans,” said Alisa Bernard, a former sex worker and one of the directors of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors.

With that in mind, there seems to be an odd divide in terms of what one of the most liberal cities in the country will and won’t do regarding this issue.

“In a city where we’re going to have safe injection sites, there are not safe places for people to go to exchange money for sex,” said The Ron and Don Show’s Don O’Neill on KIRO Radio.

Seattle is already home to dozens of underground safe injection sites, and soon will forge ahead with city-sponsored sites as well, in an effort to help curb and contain the growing opioid crisis.

Meanwhile, sex workers walking Aurora are “constantly being objectified, commodified, bought, [and] sold,” Bernard told KIRO 7.

“I know that people are brought here from other parts of the country. I know that kids sometimes become sex slaves. I know those stories,” said O’Neill. 

Could the solution be a simple one for Seattle?

“The johns want to be left alone, and the prostitutes want to be left alone, so why not tax it?” he said. “Why not make sure that they are safe? If they want a way out, why not help them with a way out?”

There seems to be data to support this too. A recent study by UCLA researchers found that when Rhode Island decriminalized indoor prostitution between 2003 and 2009, there was a 31 percent decrease in reported rapes, and a similarly significant decline in STDs.

“Why not at least have a discussion about this?” asked O’Neill. 

Ron and Don

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Much like safe injection sites, shouldn’t Seattle create safety for sex workers?