Vermont lawmakers are working to repeal the state’s prostitution laws, decriminalizing adult sex work in the state. Proponents of two measures working through the Statehouse say benefits include increased access to public health and safety. But some anti-trafficking advocates argue the bills could do more harm than good. Some Vermont lawmakers say that the way to keep sex workers safe is to decriminalize prostitution. “Criminalization Makes sex workers vulnerable to violence and exploitation, and it makes it difficult for them to access things like health care, housing, and opportunities for employment outside of sex work,” said Sen. Rebecca White, the sponsor of Senate Bill 125. No one could point to any arrests in recent years for prostitution, but advocates say it’s not about how common the practice is. “We are treated as second-class citizens because of how we choose to support ourselves and how we choose to support our families. It is a health issue and a human rights issue. This is an issue of safety, it’s an issue of health,” said Henri June Bynx of Montpelier. The measures are different from one approved in Burlington last year. There, the City Council approved a charter to remove language about sex work, thereby taking away the city’s ability to regulate or criminalize it.
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