Commercial Sexual Exploitation Across New York City Requires Concerted Action by DA Gonzalez and Other City DAs
New York, July 27, 2021 – New Yorkers for the Equality Model continues to be deeply concerned about the “open-air prostitution market” in Brooklyn as reported by “The New York Post” in a series of articles outlining rampant commercial sexual exploitation with impunity, as well as the lack of concerted action by District Attorney’s Offices against sex buyers and exploiters across New York City.
“The New York Post” described men in their cars lining up on tracks in Brooklyn ready to purchase sexual acts from women, many of whom are likely sex trafficking victims, as pimps and traffickers observe close by in plain sight.
While we applaud Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s decision to end the prosecution of people engaged in prostitution and vacate their prostitution-related warrants, we continue to call on his office to cease offering a green light to perpetrators by seemingly ignoring the laws prohibiting patronizing (sex buying) and promoting prostitution (pimping). Reports indicate that there was little incentive from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to prosecute sex buyers until media exposure of the East New York prostitution track led to ten arrests for patronizing. These efforts must be sustained in Brooklyn and implemented by all New York City DAs.
Sex buying is neither a “quality of life” nor a “low-level offense” as many district attorneys claim. It is paid-for sexual misconduct that fuels sex trafficking, upholds racial and gender inequalities, and causes acute harm to the people purchased for sexual acts.
New York State recently repealed loitering for purposes of prostitution (commonly known as the “Walking While Trans” Law), a critical first step recognizing that people engaging in prostitution should be offered support and services, not criminalization.
Furthermore, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Pamela Hunter are sponsoring the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act (S6040/A7069) a key tool in preventing sex trafficking. The Act would decriminalize people engaged in prostitution and offer them access to comprehensive services, including exit strategies, while maintaining penalties against sex buyers, pimps and traffickers. The Act would also encourage public education about the harms of the sex trade, a multi-billion-dollar illegal enterprise that relies on sex, gender, racial, and economic inequalities and vulnerabilities.
Endorsing prosecuting people who purchase sexual acts and taking action after a newspaper expose is not enough. DA Gonzalez and all New York City’s DAs must demonstrate the political will to hold sex buyers to account as vectors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. District Attorney’s Offices across the city must develop and implement a targeted campaign to reduce the demand for prostitution, uphold the rule of law, refer victims to service agencies, and educate the public that sex buying is not a victimless crime.