Two suspected survivors of sex trafficking are suing the state of Nevada claiming it violated the 13th Amendment by facilitating and benefiting from the illegal sex trade in the state.
Announced Monday, the lawsuit specifically names the state attorney general and Governor Steve Sisolak, as well as several counties and private entities.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which is bringing a lawsuit on behalf of suspected survivors, is asking a district court to declare national and local laws legalizing prostitution unconstitutional. This includes escort services and county ordinances that allow legal brothels.
“Nevada’s legal prostitution system has inherently contributed to the sex trafficking of these complainants both for the benefit of the sex buyers who flock to Nevada and for the benefit of Nevada and its tourism industry,” said Christen Price, counselor. Senior Legal Officer at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
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“The plaintiffs were subjected to violence, threats and other forms of control by profiteers in the sex trade, which is precisely what the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits. Ultimately, these Nevada defendants must be held responsible for allowing this abuse. “
Governor Sisolak’s office declined to comment. The attorney general’s office did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. The state had four new federal sex trafficking prosecutions in 2020, according to NCOSE. In 2020, US Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich announced that more than $ 65 million in grants from the federal Department of Justice were available to combat human trafficking in the state.
An NCOSE victory could create potential problems for other state prostitution laws, although the lawsuit presents the situation in Nevada as particularly egregious.
Part of NCOSE’s argument rests on the idea that legalized prostitution tends to be correlated with increased sex trafficking. Studies from the London School of Economics (2013) and Harvard University (2014) also found that countries where legal prostitution tended to experience higher levels of human trafficking. The NCOSE lawsuit alleges that Nevada brothels knowingly employed trafficked persons and engaged in coercive activities such as preventing prostitutes from leaving the premises.
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Complainants “Jane Doe” and Angela Williams are also using federal anti-trafficking laws to attempt to prosecute on behalf of those currently trafficked. State and county authorities, they claim, have benefited from the jurisdictions’ “reputation as legal havens for sex.”
The NCOSE lawsuit comes as part of a larger campaign to deregulate or decriminalize prostitution in the United States. California lawmakers last week approved a bill that would decriminalize vagrancy for the purpose of prostitution. Texas, meanwhile, recently passed a law making solicitation of prostitution a crime.
Nevada, however, is the only state where prostitution is legal. Prostitution is technically illegal in Las Vegas, although NCOSE alleges that “it is more fake than reality” because the city allows “legalized escorts and escort offices.” The University of Nevada in Las Vegas previously reported that the state tied for ninth in sex trafficking in the United States with 199 cases in 2017.
Rhode Island also decriminalized prostitution between 1980 and 2009, providing a case study for researchers seeking to determine the effects of decriminalization. NCOSE highlighted a Wake Forest Law Review article claiming that decriminalization has led to an increase in prostitution and hampered law enforcement.
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Advocates of decriminalization generally argue that it allows women to earn a living as they see fit. The Open Society Foundations, led by billionaire George Soros, argues that decriminalization promotes safe working conditions, reduces the risk of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and helps prevent abuse.
“When sex work is decriminalized, sex workers can lobby for safer working conditions and use the justice system to seek redress for discrimination and abuse,” the group said. “Sex workers are more likely to live without stigma, social exclusion or fear of violence.”