DC City Council is hosting a hearing today for over 170 witnesses testifying for an against legalizing the sex trade in the District of Columbia, under DC Bill 318. Many sex workers are sharing their stories of marginalization, and how criminalization is an impediment to their housing and economic stability. Many trafficking survivors are testifying to the provisions in question empowering situations that mirrored their exploitation.

Hashtags on Twitter to follow for this conversation (that should last from 10am until at least 9pm EST on October 17, 2019) are: #DecrimDC, #Stop318DC, and #ProtectSurvivorsNotBuyers.

Please consider watching the livestream and joining in the Livetweeting conversation to keep the conversation robust and balanced, and to let council know people care about this issue.

They are also accepting written testimony on this bill until November 1, 2019. If you are interested in submitting written testimony:

For  witnesses who are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements will be made part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted to the Committee at  judiciary@dccouncil.us. The record will close at the· end of the business day on Friday, November 1.

Our CEO Rochelle Keyhan testified in the morning panel, and her full testimony is available below.

10.17-DC-Decrim-Testimony-Rochelle-Keyhan

Our primary shared goal is to decrease arrests of people in the sex trade, both consenting and not consenting. This is urgent and must be achieved as rapidly as possible. I ask that you spend today not gathering evidence to decide whether you should vote “yes” or “no” on this legislation – but that today we can treat this hearing as an exercise in what amendments we need to make to this proposed policy so that we can actually pass it by the end of this legislative session.

Rochelle Keyhan, CEO of Collective Liberty
October 17, 2019 Testimony, Council of District of Columbia hearing