I believe so many have to do with people that are poor, people of color, people that are already disadvantaged in many ways.
But it also found that criminalizing sex work in the name of preventing exploitation can have the effect of endangering sex workers and driving them to the fringes. Pazen said disparities in arrest rates can be explained in part by the fact that police follow up on complaints from the public.
The result is higher arrest rates for street-based sex workers — some of the very people who are more likely to be exploited, who Pazen and other law enforcement officials say they want to protect.
Photos: inside denver's wikisexguide
The fear of being outed is pervasive and damaging to mental health, she said. Some say they felt more degraded working low-wage jobs at stores and restaurants than they ever have doing sex work. When she meets with clients she does as much screening as possible, she said, but prepares for something to go wrong. But, like others in the field, she worries about how this career might dim her prospects for a different one in the future. West pointed to a disincentive to speak up in the first place.
And why Ella West has lied to loved ones about what she does for a living. Mia told management what happened and asked them to remove the man from the club, and when they did not she went to the police. This is especially true for the poor, people of color and transgender people, academic analyses of crime data show.
The Post verified their identities through extensive conversations and multiple in-person meetings. Mia, a sex worker, had been violated on the job more ways than she could count when, around Christmasshe decided for the first time to report someone. There, a host of problems — mental health decline, violence, worker-buyer power imbalance, social isolation — can fester and compound.
Those two workers and others interviewed by The Denver Post said they believe the current prohibition of prostitution in Colorado and the rest of the country except for 10 counties in Nevada leaves workers vulnerable to physical and economic danger, problems law enforcement officials say anti-prostitution laws are meant to alleviate. The only person punished in the case was Mia. No one really cares about sex workers and how things affect us, and we have to walk through the world knowing that people feel that way.
Some operate in environments they describe as safe and supportive, while others — especially those who work on the street — enjoy neither of those features. Pazen promised that any sex worker in Denver who reports a crime will not be arrested for prostitution or otherwise have their criminal status be held against them by police. Many types of work can be considered sex work, including illegal forms such as escorting and street-based prostitution, and legal forms that include stripping and online content creation.
Sex workers lamented that they rarely feel heard, even when laws are being crafted that directly affect them. The Colorado sex workers quoted in this story asked to be identified by aliases they either currently use or ly used in both legal and illegal lines of sex work.
Sex workers and people who work with them in the legal system and social safety nets told The Post they believe many of the problems imposed upon sex workers trace to a basic, widespread misunderstanding of who they are and why they do what they do.
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The stigma, combined with the criminalization of sex work, is why Cateleya Winter, who recently retired from a few years doing both legal and illegal sex work, said she was more scared to contact authorities than to just keep driving when someone followed her out of a Denver strip club around 3 a. Editor's note: It is The Denver Post' s policy to quote sources by their real names. Marie of Aurora, who does both legal and illegal sex work.
Criminalization helps keep us silent in a lot of ways. Some sex workers can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a single night of work. The Post made an exception for this story so that sex workers could candidly speak without fear of facing criminal, professional or social consequences.
But it does make them much more vulnerable, they noted. A Denver Post investigation involving more than 25 interviews found broad support for the goal of stopping those predatory crimes. The city health department found the old policy led to additional criminalization of vulnerable people and was based on debunked assumptions of this population as necessarily more likely to have diseases or less likely to protect against diseases. Kiehl spoke of one woman who came to her nonprofit having recently been sexually assaulted and in need of safe housing.
She was performing a lap dance at a Boulder strip club when a customer aggressively grabbed a part of her body she had clearly stated he was not to touch, she said. But much disagreement exists within and outside the sex work community over what makes someone a sex worker. Ava V. Marie, like Winter, is a Black woman and especially loath to contact police.
Local governments mostly have no idea how many sex workers live in their communities, officials said, meaning policy is crafted off an incomplete understanding of a diverse population. That stigma is why Mia was hesitant to report her assault. Most workers are women, but men, transgender and non-binary people also do sex work and face distinct levels of discrimination and risk. Winter said she has seen other dancers stalked after work and worse. Some are forced into the work or do it just to survive. Legal workers often make a point to separate themselves from illegal workers.
The city is taking steps to focus more on human trafficking, including at massage parlors, and less on punishing sex workers, he said.
But when they try to tell their stories they feel shut out, they said in interviews. The hours can be flexible, the money can be good. Calida recalled walking the halls of Congress three years ago in a group of sex workers attempting to explain what they saw as unintended consequences — including decreased safety and financial disempowerment — of a pair of bills now laws meant to reduce online avenues for sex trafficking.
Far from devastated, some sex workers attest to deriving financial empowerment and schedule flexibility. She made her way back to the club and a staffer ushered her home safely. Someone selling sex along Colfax, a busy public roadway with many businesses, is much more likely to be reported than an escort meeting clients at home or in a hotel. That means people facing arrest related to sex work are frequently the most desperate, the least empowered.
By Alex Burness aburness denverpost.
A system meant to punish exploitation has also helped create profound stigma that discourages legal and illegal sex workers from advocating for their own needs in statehouses, city halls, police departments, courts and media. Street-based prostitution is common in those areas. More in Politics. Advocacy by sex workers focuses largely on reducing concrete harms created by criminalization, but sex workers and outside experts cited the need for other changes beyond the control of any legislature or police chief.