Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world, yet it is still criminalized in Texas. State Affairs(SAF) members Ananya Vegesna, Ava Karkuschke, and Ethan Ong introduced a proposal that decriminalizes all forms of consensual sex work in Texas.
“When we were deciding to pick our proposal we wanted to pick something that wasn’t commonly discussed,” stated Karkuschke. “When we saw the proposal topic list we thought it was important and something others should be made aware of. We all had heard about this topic before and it was something that we wanted to explore more.”
(Left: Ananya Vegesna; Middle: Ethan Ong; Right: Ava Karkuschke)
The proposal authors wish to decriminalize sex work with five key aspects: prohibitions on use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age, health and safety requirements, brothel operator certification systems, small owner-operated brothels(SOOBs), and lastly having territorial authorities.
Based on the Prostitution Reform Act(PRA) of 2003 in New Zealand, the proposal authors state that if their proposal were to be enacted, their results to be expected would follow a similar manner as New Zealand. “Five years after the passage of the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act the Prostitution Law Review Committee has stated that the size of the sex industry has not increased in size and the issue of the increase in sex trafficking was not an issue that had been experienced.”
While the proposal authors make their outstanding proposal sound effortless when presented, they have faced some tough aspects when getting their point across to their fellow delegates.
“One of the hardest aspects of this proposal was to make sure that delegates understood the struggles that sex workers face due to the criminalization of prostitution. Prostitution is often viewed and portrayed in a negative light, but sex workers face a multitude of different struggles and issues which most people aren’t aware of, ” stated Vegesna. “We wanted to ensure that our proposal properly addressed this clearly and thoroughly.”
When actively debating the proposal, proponent intent speaker Pranav Ganta strongly agreed with the intention of this proposal. “We have to understand that allowing this to occur is not only going to increase the rights of prostitution workers, but also allow themselves to gain light and to access a transparent information, policies, and practices that increase their ability to go in with safety measures and allow them to support their families, not because they choose to do it, but because of desperation,” stated Ganta.
While this proposal has received positive feedback from SAF delegates, opponent intent speaker, Marshall Engel had something to say about it. “While some may claim that prostitution is a victimless crime, that it is liberating and consensual, that is certainly not the case, in truth, prostitution creates a setting, whereby our fellow humans, become commodified to be bought and sold,” argued Engel. “Owned for the pleasure of others, prostitutes are merely slaves who want the state to help and protect them, not decriminalize and normalize the crimes against humanity that they experience every day.”
After an interesting debate session, their proposal, which is to decriminalize all forms of consensual sex work in Texas, passed with the majority voting yes to this proposal. “We are truly grateful and happy that we got the opportunity to present in General Assembly(GA) one last time. Given that our proposal passed, this is a defining moment of our YG careers and will be a memory that we take away with us,” stated Ong, thus concluding their Youth and Government journey.
Story By: Jacqueline Chavez