UPDATE: It passed.
Tomorrow, Burlington City Meeting voters will vote on Ballot #5, to remove from the city charter all language making prostitution illegal. If approved by voters and (eventually) by the Vermont Legislature, Ballot #5 would ‘decriminalize’ prostitution within the city limits.
Supporters say the existing language is sexist, racist and no longer represents societal norms. Opponents, including New Englanders Against Sexual Violence, disagree and offer the following reasons to vote no.
- Once you normalize the sex trade, it explodes. In Germany, where prostitution and brothels have been legal since 2002, an estimated one million men buy sex each day, coming from all over the world. The capital city, Berlin, alone has over 500 brothels.
- Men who don’t buy sex when it is illegal, become new clients. As a 2018 study of 8,000 U.S. men demonstrates, over 20% of respondents who never bought sex, would buy sex if it was decriminalized or legalized.
- To satisfy demand, the sex trade has to lure vulnerable people. There are never enough women willing to be exploited and degraded in prostitution. Sex trafficking cases increased 70% in Germany as a result of legalization. In The Netherlands were prostitution was legalized in 2000, an estimated 50-90% of women are being sold against their will.
- The illegal sex trade increases alongside the legal sector, when it is normalized. Nevada, the only U.S. jurisdiction with legal brothels, has the highest rates of an illegal sex trade—63% higher than the next highest state of New York and double that of Florida.
Burlington’s polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm tomorrow. The ballot also will include elections and spending requests.