Vt. House passes bill giving new protections to sex workers

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 5:03 PM EST
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Vermont lawmakers could give sex workers and victims of human trafficking more protections when reporting crimes.

Thursday, the House voted 126-19 to pass a bill giving good Samaritan protections to sex workers who report crimes. If reported in a timely manner, sex workers can avoid prosecution for prostitution and some drug charges.

Sponsors of the bill say the criminalization of sex work doesn't eliminate that industry, it only creates conditions that are unsafe.

"Fear of prosecution or being charged with a criminal act can prevent people from coming forward in the instance that they're assaulted, robbed or harmed in some way," said Rep. Selene Colburn, P-Burlington.

Vermont State Police have arrested fewer than 20 people for prostitution since 2014.

The bill would create a committee to study and make recommendations to modernize Vermont's prostitution laws.

It now heads to the Vermont Senate.