In the United States, sex work is currently criminalized at the federal level and in most states, meaning that the buying and selling of sexual services is illegal. However, there has been growing advocacy for the decriminalization of sex work in recent years.
Decriminalization would involve removing laws that criminalize the buying and selling of sexual services, but would not remove laws related to sex trafficking, sexual assault, or other related crimes. Decriminalization would also involve providing legal and social support to sex workers, such as access to healthcare, legal services, and other resources.
Advocates for decriminalization argue that criminalizing sex work can be harmful to sex workers, as it can increase stigma, limit access to healthcare, and make it difficult for sex workers to report violence or abuse. They argue that decriminalization would allow for greater control and autonomy for sex workers, and would reduce harm and violence associated with sex work.
Critics of decriminalization argue that it could lead to an increase in sex trafficking, exploitation, and violence against sex workers. They also argue that decriminalization could lead to an increase in demand for sexual services, which could perpetuate the commodification of sex and lead to further exploitation.
While there is ongoing debate and discussion around the decriminalization of sex work in the United States, there have been some recent developments in this area. For example, in 2020, Washington, D.C. became the first jurisdiction in the United States to fully decriminalize sex work. Other cities and states have also begun to explore decriminalization or have taken steps to reduce criminal penalties for sex work.