According to The Hill, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said during an interview with The Root that she supports the decriminalization of sex work, arguing that behavior between consenting adults should not be criminalized if no one is being hurt.
The interviewer asked Harris if sex work "ought to be decriminalized," to which she responded:
“I do. 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”
She continued, "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."
Harris spoke about the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which she supports. Sex workers and advocates have argued that SESTA shut down websites like Backpage.com where workers can screen their clients for safety.
"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 said.
In response to criticism about shutting down Backpage, Harris said, "Backpage was providing advertisements for the sale of children. Of minors. And so I called for them to be shut down. And I have no regrets about that."
Last month, Harris announced her candidacy for the presidency in 2020. She joins Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand in the race.