Leigh Goodmark Advocates to Keep Survivors of Trafficking Out of the Criminal Legal System

Leigh Goodmark (’95), Director of the Gender Violence Clinic and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, coauthored a guest commentary for Maryland Matters opposing a proposal to resume prosecution of prostitution and discussing the impact of policing of people who trade sex, including people who have experienced trafficking (“Opinion: Prosecuting Victims of Sex Trafficking Doesn’t Make Baltimore Safer,” Mar. 17). “People who trade sex need approaches that center their autonomy and dignity, rather than a system that makes decisions about what they need without their input. Support may look like a place to stay that doesn’t discriminate, people who listen and don’t judge, or the long-term safety nets a person may need to leave the sex trade, when and if they are ready to do so. . . . As a community, we can better support people who trade sex not by calling the police on them, but by calling on ourselves to support the building of trusting and nonjudgmental relationships outside of the criminal legal system. . . . Arresting victims of violence, including victims of trafficking, only makes these experiences worse and harder to escape.”