Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris supports decriminalizing sex work for consenting adults. The U.S. senator from California has been criticized for her past support of shuttering sites like Backpage.com, which acted as a space where sex workers could screen clients.
During a comprehensive interview with The Root, senior reporter Terrell Jermaine Starr asked Harris if she supports the decriminalization of sex work.
"I do," Harris said.
"I think that we have to understand, though, that it is not as simple as that. There's an ecosystem around that, that involves crimes that harm people,” Harris said. “And for those issues, I do not believe that anybody who hurts another human being or profits off of their exploitation should be ... free of criminal prosecution.”
"But when you're talking about consenting adults? Yes, we should really consider that we can't criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed," she added.
Harris ardently supported the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which sex workers' advocates view as rolling back internet freedoms around sex work and as something that has and will inflict “devastating damage on already-marginalized communities, including many trans women of color who depend on sex work to survive.” as Advocate conttibutor Alexander Cheves wrote.
During her interview with The Root, Starr asked Harris about SESTA-FOSTA, which Congress passed and Donald Trump signed into law.
"I was advocating [15 years ago] that we have to stop arresting these prostitutes and start going after the johns and the pimps, because we were criminalizing the women," Harris said.
"Backpage was providing advertisements for the sale of children. Of minors," Harris added. "And so I called for them to be shut down. And I have no regrets about that."