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Kamala Harris supports decriminalizing sex work

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWho will replace Harris in Senate? 'Rising' discusses Wisconsin formally declares Biden won election following recount Moderate Democrats: Everyone's older siblings 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 SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' 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."