Kamala Harris Wants to decriminalize Prostitution
In a February 2019 interview with The Root, Harris was asked, “Do you think that sex work ought
to be decriminalized?”
She responded: “I think so, I do. I think that we have to understand though that it is not as simple as that.
But when you’re talking about consenting adults, I think that yes we should really consider that we can’t
criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed.”
The most important thing to note from Harris’ response is that, despite its nuances, decriminalization is
not the same thing as legalization.
Decriminalization is the reduction of criminal penalties when someone commits an illegal act,
while legalization means that there are no longer legal prohibitions on the act, meaning it would now be legal.
In the Root interview, Harris did not say she wanted to legalize sex work or prostitution.
She did say she wants to decriminalize it, meaning those who participate in sex work would face lesser
punishments than they do now. Harris has not laid out specific policies on that.
She also noted that there is an “ecosystem” of sex work that includes people who profit off of the harm
or exploitation of others. Those people, according to Harris, should not be exempt from criminal prosecution.