Kamala Harris supports decriminalizing sex work

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum MORE (D-Calif.) says that she supports the decriminalization of sex work nationwide, noting that "we can't criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed."

In an interview with The Root, Harris was asked whether sex work "ought to be decriminalized," though the interviewer did not specify at which level.

"I do," Harris responded. "I think that we have to understand, though, that it is not as simple as that. ... There's an ecosystem around that, that involves crimes that harm people. And for those issues, I do not believe that anybody who hurts another human being or profits off of their exploitation should be ... free of criminal prosecution.

"But when you're talking about consenting adults? Yes, we should really consider that we can't criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed," she added.

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Harris also explained her support for the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) in the interview, which sex workers and advocates argued shut down online platforms such as Backpage.com and others which workers used to screen clients and establish safer working procedures.

"I was advocating [15 years ago] that we have to stop arresting these prostitutes and start going after the johns and the pimps, because we were criminalizing the women," Harris told The Root.

"Backpage was providing advertisements for the sale of children. Of minors," she added, responding to the criticism of the shuttering of Backpage.com. "And so I called for them to be shut down. And I have no regrets about that."

Harris announced her candidacy for the White House in 2020 last month and joined a crowded and growing field of Democrats including her fellow Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (D-N.Y.).

Along with Warren, Harris has also endorsed some form of reparations for black Americans affected by the legacy of slavery.

"We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities," Harris told The New York Times last week. "I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities."