BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — House Bill 3088 proposes to decriminalize certain crimes regarding prostitution in Oregon, but it has drawn sharp criticism, including from a Bend lawmaker who expects it to die “a very quick death” in Salem.
Specifically, the proposal aims at repealing crimes of prostitution, commercial sexual solicitation and promoting prostitution.
Supporters of the bill hope Oregon can become the first state to de-criminalize sex work, but the bill already has opponents.
Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard, a Bend-based human trafficking nonprofit resource, said she is against the bill because it will only further hurt victims of human trafficking.
“There are no independent studies anywhere that show that by normalizing the sex trade or decriminalizing it that it makes it safer,” Belles said.
Belles said the bill was proposed by an outside group that really doesn’t have any lasting interest or commitment to Oregon.
State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, also is against the bill.
“You can only imagine that a trafficker would be even more interested in exploiting a child in that case, because it essentially it wouldn’t be a crime,” Knopp said Monday.
Some of the statutes that would be revised include:
ORS 12.117– Actions that constitute child abuse or conduct knowingly allowing, permitting or encouraging child abuse
ORS 90.396– Landlord may terminate the rental agreement and take possession as provided if the tenant or someone in the tenants control commits any act that is outrageous in the extreme on the premises
ORS 137.076– Collecting Blood/buccal sample and thumbprint of certain convicted defendants required when applying for a teaching, personnel service or administrative license.
In Deschutes County, there have been four prostitution cases reported to the sheriff’s office in the past 3 years.
Knopp noted that being a victim of sex trafficking can be degrading and humiliating.
“Very few people who are doing it on their own accord that aren’t either being pressured, coerced or otherwise enslaved to do it,” he said. “And so I oppose this bill. I think most of my colleagues do as well, and I think its going to have a very quick death here in Oregon. “
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