What does Decriminalization of Sex Work Mean?
Prostitution consists of either:
- engaging in, or offering or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct for a fee, or
- paying, or offering or agreeing to pay to engage in sexual conduct.
Sexual conduct need not actually take place, nor must money actually change hands. (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 712-1200.)
The bills to decriminalize prostitution in Hawaii re-define prostitution as consensual adult sex work.
To decriminalize consensual adult sex work would remove prostitution from the penal code.
Criminalization: Prostitution is currently prohibited through penal codes in the Hawaii Revised Statutes. These codes are enforced by police and courts and always frame the people involved as criminals.
Decriminalization: Prostitution is recognized by the state as a form of sex work and sex workers are afforded the same legal protections as other workers.
Sex work can be regulated through other areas of the Hawaii Revised Statutes that address public health and safety, commercial zoning, and labor.
Laws that criminalize rape, force, fraud, coercion, sex with minors and other forms of abuse would continue to be enforced under decriminalization.
Legalization: prostitution is regulated through the penal code and enforced by police.
The terms “legalization” and “decriminalization” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings.
Sex workers around the world want Decriminalization not Legalization.