The fledgling New Hampshire Chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an internationally affiliated organization with a focus on advocacy, education, and support of those engaged in consensual sex work, as well as their friends and family, is already making waves at the New Hampshire State Capitol.
On Tuesday, February 20th, at a Senate Judiciary hearing on NH House Bill 287, a bill sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Edwards (D) of Manchester’s Ward 4, that would establish a committee to study the laws around prostitution and trafficking in the state, members of SWOP NH gave impassioned testimony in support of the bill. Academics, local sex workers, as well as members of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, COYOTE Rhode Island, and SWOP Behind Bars were present and gave testimony in support of the bill. Religious organizations, concerned citizens, and prostitution prohibitionist groups turned out to speak in opposition to the bill but were surprisingly in agreement with the need to reform the current laws. Decriminalization was mentioned several times on both sides of the debate. The tense and impassioned hearing went on for over an hour, and it is still unclear when the committee will make a recommendation.
“We are honored to be listed as an interested party for advice and testimony. We want to publicly thank those in our membership who testified this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, we know how much bravery it requires to be public about our lived experiences when there is such risk involved,” says current SWOP NH Chair, Leslee Petersen.
SWOP New Hampshire is in agreement with the recommendations put forth by Amnesty International and the World Health Organization of full decriminalization of sex work, otherwise known as the New Zealand Model, as a pathway towards curbing human trafficking as well as the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In the spirit of harm reduction policies, SWOP NH hopes that HB287 will find support across party lines, as conservatives and liberals alike can often find agreement in supporting victims of sex trafficking and opening future possibilities for those who work in the sex industries. If you wish to help us in this endeavor, SWOP NH asks that you contact your NH Senator and talk to them about why you support HB 287. For questions or press inquiries, you can contact SWOP NH at firstname.lastname@example.org