Hannah Estabrook, executive director of Sanctuary Night in Columbus, Ohio, also formerly worked in a specialized county court that serves victims of prostitution and human trafficking.

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Should Prostitution Be Decriminalized?

by Hannah Estabrook 03-23-2022
Four things an advocate wants you to know about sex workers. 
Illustration of a small red umbrella in the arch of a yellow stiletto

Illustration by Michael George Haddad

A WOMAN I know was arrested on her birthday for the crime of solicitation for prostitution—agreeing to a sex act for money. She spent 18 days in jail, enough time for a brutal detox from the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Tara (name changed to protect her identity) is not an empowered sex worker, at least not in the way that sex worker rights activists would like to describe her in their vehemence against her arrest. Nor does Tara identify as a sex trafficking “victim” or “survivor.” She would tell you that she chose the street life and all that comes with it.

Though I am constantly learning from my friends in the sex trade, here is what I understand after spending 10 years with this population: