Say NO to fully decriminalizing the DC sex trade

Council of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

Re: Bill 23–0318, the “Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019

Dear Council member:

We, the undersigned survivors of the sex trade, have collectively experienced hundreds of years of abuse, violence, objectification, and dehumanization in the sex trade. We know first-hand that prostitution is not a victimless crime and that most individuals involved in the sex trade are not there voluntarily and have experienced long term harm as a result of being bought and sold. We STRONGLY OPPOSE pending legislation to FULLY decriminalize the entire sex trade in DC, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019.

This legislation decriminalizes the sex industry in DC, including sex buying, acts of pimping/procurement, and brothel owning. This measure will increase violence against women and children, regardless of their involvement in the sex trade, while greatly increasing instances of sex trafficking in the District.

Our voices MUST be heard in this discussion because we have lived the harm you want to make legal.

We support the decriminalization of people directly selling sex in prostitution. No one being prostituted in the sex trade should be arrested for prostitution regardless of whether trafficked or not. But Sex Buying/Patronizing, Pimping/Procurement, and Brothel Owning MUST remain illegal. That combination of laws is known as the Equality Model.

D.C.-based Courtney’s House is the only African American-led, survivor-led program serving male and female survivors ages 9–24 from Wards 1, 7 and 8. They report that virtually 100% of their survivors are found in houses or makeshift brothels and that 30% of their youth are trafficked by their families, sold out of their own homes. Given this devastating reality, we are horrified by the proposal to decriminalize informal brothels throughout the District. This, paired with the decriminalization of sex-buying, would surely fuel the trafficking and exploitation of countless other vulnerable groups.

We reject a society that leaves those exploited with hopelessness.

Policy should never be built on the backs of those enslaved, sending the message that it is acceptable to use their humanity for the pleasure of anyone with money because a privileged few decide to sell sex once they are adults and have options.

We stand with the DC survivor community in urging you to reject this harmful legislation. Our hope is that you will hear the voices of survivors in the District and beyond who have repeatedly said that prostitution is not empowering, it instead enables racial and gendered violence. Survivors across the nation are watching DC and counting on you.

Our Collective Voice Matters; Your Vote MUST BE NO.


Rev. Dr. Marian Hatcher
Survivor Leader, SPACE International U.S.A.-Member
Ambassador-At-Large, United Nations

A. D.

AA Copeland

Abbey Brooks-Derzay
Franciscan Peacemakers and the National Survivor Network

Adriana Sanchez
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services



Alexandra (Sandi) Pierce

Othayonih Research

CEO Sister Survivors, Advocate Neighborhood Legal Services, Author

Alicia A Cohen
SAFE, Survivors United, Survivor Alliance, National Survivor Network

Alisa Bernard
The Organization for Prostitution Survivors

Allison Franklin
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

Alyssa Romero
Free Our Girls

My Life My Choice

Amelia West
Sister Survivors and Neighborhood Legal Services

Amy Andrews
Survivors Consultation Network

Amy Engle
Streetlight USA

Amy Smith

Angela Pratt
Free Outreach

Annie Lobert
Hookers For Jesus

April Baker


Aubree Alles
She Counts

Audra Doody
Living in Freedom Together, INC

Autumn Burris
Survivors for Solutions

Barbara Amaya

Barbie Robinson

Beth Jacobs
Truckers Against Trafficking

Catholic Charities DIGNITY

Free Our Girls/ Sparrows Landing

Brenda Myers Powell
The Dreamcatcher Foundation

Brenda Stewart
The Dreamcatcher Foundation/McDermott Haymarket Center

Brigette Robarge
Michigan Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board

Brook Bello
More Too Life

Survivor Leader


Survivors of the Sex Trade

Carissa Phelps
Runaway Girl, Inc.

Chasity Rainwater
Redeemed Ministries

Cheri Crider
Amirah, Inc.

Cherie Jimenez
EVA Center

Cheryl Ross
A_-21 out of Charlotte, NC

Christine Cesa
Survivor Advocate

Christine Stark

Into the Jordan Ministries

Constance Rose
Victims2Survivors and Connie Rose Consulting


Veronica’s Voice

Generate Hope

Darian Roberts
Darkness Revealed

Darlene Pawlik
Darling Princess

Debra Rush
Breaking the Chains

Delores Day
Restore Innocence Ranch

Desiree Trail
Central Va Justice Initiative

Diana Cisneros
Child Family Policy Institute of California

Resilient Voices & Survivor 2 Survivor (S2S)

Elizabeth Johnstone
Living in Freedom Together

Elle Snow
Bauer and Phelps Law

Emily Hollerbach
Ending the Game

Emmy myers
Lacey’s Hope Project

Eric Harris
Itvap. Indiana trafficking victim’s assistance program consultant/ lived experience speaker

Erik Gray
Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative, Queers Uniting to End Exploitation

Erin Wright
SHE Survivors for Hope by Empowerment


Gabriela Lozano

Gina C

Gina Salazar
Asian Associations of Utah

Hannah B

Harmony Grillo

Hazel Fasthorse
Human Trafficking Specialist


Iain Martin

J. C.

Jacqueline Homan
Codecatenation, LLC

Jacquelynn Loos
Community Advocate Supervisor-REST, Co-Founder/Trainer-QUEE

Jade Richard

Janine Montgomery
Youth Trust Project

Jasmine Grace Marino
Bags of Hope Ministries

2nd Chance Ministries


Jeanette Westbrook (MSSW)
SPACE International

Jennifer Tucker
Esteem Outreach/Life Center Tacoma

Jeri Moomaw
Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative

Jerome Elam
Trafficking in America Task Force

Jessica Frazier
Straight Street Life Center Inc

Jessica Kay Halling
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children

Jessica L. Kim
Survivor Advocate

Jessica Sobolesky
Child kidnapping, trafficking and prosecution survivor

Jessika S

Jewell Baraka



John Price

Jolene Hollis

Josephine Feemster



Julia Anderson
Survivor Leader; #iCan Project

Julie Shematz
Beauty From Ashes⢠Ministries

Kathi Hardy
Freedom From Exploitation, Inc.

Kathleen Mitchell
DIGNITY Programs Phoenix AZ

Kathryn Wehunt
The Formation Project

Kathy Bryan
Rebecca Bender Initiative

Katrina Taylor

Kayti Batya
Street Grace

Beautiful and Loved

Kelli Smith

Kelly Dore

Kelly Patterson

Kimberly Lovett
Breaking Free

Kimberly Mull
Kimberly Mull Advocacy & Consulting

Kirsten O’Hanlon
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)

Kristen Tebow
Youth Trust Project

Kristina Jackson
Breaking Free

Kristy Childs
Veronica’s Voice

Kylee Gregg

Laura Wakeman
Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests

Laurin Crosson
Rockstarr Organization

Leslie King
Sacred Beginnings


Linda Ellen

Lindsey Hass
South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force

Lisa Hughes

Lisa L. Pous
Central Texas DMST Coalition, Central Texas Coalition,zero SurvivorsGEMs and RBI

Lorena Spencer


Breaking Free

NSN, The Hope Project


LuAnn Goodyear
Free Our Girls and Extended Hands of Hope

Lucy Bloom
Veronica’s Voice

Lynne Stevens
Breaking Free

Marjorie Saylor
Survivor Leader Network of San Diego

Marlene Carson
The Switch Anti Trafficking Network

Mary Knight

Megan Lundstrom
Free Our Girls

Melanie Thompson
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

Melinda Starrett
Florida Baptist Children’s Homes

Melody Soto

Michelle Gasper
Living in Freedom Together

Mindy Best
Survivor-Elevate Academy

Misty Mckinney


Freedom Place

Nichole Burrell

Nicole Bell
Living In Freedom Together Inc

Nicole Niblett

Noel Gomez
Organization for Prostitution Survivors

Patricia Haven
Triumph Ministries

Penny Adrian


Poppy Romero
Rebecca Bender Elevate Academy

Rachel Lloyd

Rachel Niemiec

Rachel Pointer
Independent Anti-trafficking Consultant

RachelAnn Baltazar
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services

Raquel Piscopo
Terry’s House

Rebecca Bender
Rebecca Bender Initiative

Rebekah Charleston
Valiant Hearts

Rev. Dr. Marian Hatcher
SPACE International-USA


Robin Levasseur

Robin Miller


Ruth Rondon
Michigan Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board

Samantha Hardy
Bayside Christian Church

Sara Smith

Sarah Z
Courtney’s House and Polaris Project

Sarah Zalonis
Courtney’s House and Polaris Project

Shamere McKenzie
Sun Gate Foundation

Shandra Woworuntu

Shanna Parker
Angels Go To Work

Shannon Martinez

Shawnee Love HHD, PhD
Purple Hearts Missions Possible & Healthy Horizons; Native American Warriorz Task Force

Sheri Lopez
You Can’t Groom Me

Sherry Dooley


S.H.A.D.E Movement

Stephanie Free

Stephanie Stansberry

Summer Carter

Susan Munsey

Street Outreach to Youth

Tamara Roberson

Tammy Bitanga
Hoʻōla Nā Pua

Tanya Street

Telisia Espinosa
Be A Voice, Catch the Wave of Hope

Teresa Forliti
Breaking Free

Teresa Meitl

Teresa Tally
Rebecca Bender Initiative

Theresa Flores
The SOAP Project

Tia-janae Johnson
Fierce Freedom

Tiffany Vazquez
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services

Tina Dixon
Hookers for Jesus

Tina Frundt
Courtney’s House

Tom Jones
The H.O.P.E. Project (Healing, Outreach and Peer Empowerment)

Toni Lucas

Toshia H
CleanUP HT / SOAP Project

Trevor Masani


Twana Lucas

Valerie Addy
U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking

Vednita Carter
Breaking Free (Past)

Virginia Lawrence



Willow Kennedy

Windie Lazenko
4her North Dakota

Yvonne Hubbell
Shared Hope International

[Disclaimer: Initials are accepted for survivor safety]

World Without Exploitation

The movement to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation

World Without Exploitation

Written by

Creating a world where no one is bought, sold, or exploited.

World Without Exploitation

The movement to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation

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