Should New York State Save Sex Workers From Themselves?
A groundbreaking new court system treats prostitutes as victims rather than criminals. But one sex-worker-turned-advocate reveals the flaws in that equation.
Illustrations by Laila Milevski
At 9:30 in the morning, there’s a steady-moving queue that snakes through the metal detectors into the central building of Kings County Criminal Court on Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The elevator is full but silent up to the eighth floor, where a young woman who calls herself Skylar is waiting on a wooden bench in the hallway, her frizzy hair pulled back into a tight bun, dressed in a faded red hoodie and cradling a cream-colored canvas bag, lumpy with books and leaflets, on her lap.
Around the corner, two sheets of paper are taped to the walls, listing the names of those being brought before the judge today in the courtroom shared by domestic violence defendants and suspected victims of sex trafficking. Many of the latter have multiple prostitution-related charges under different known aliases, pasted on the crisp page for anyone to see.
Skylar was up late last night, praying over the phone with her sister. She’s just been offered an official…
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