Prostitution is on Track to Become Legal in Maine, But There’s a Bit of a Catch
When it comes to prostitution, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is illegal here in Maine. However, that might all be changing soon- well, kind of.
A bill that is on track to pass in the Maine legislature would decriminalize prostitution in Maine, but would elevate soliciting a prostitute to a felony.
This comes on the heels of many people voicing concerns that a large number of (mostly women) are forced into the trade via sex trafficking. Many lawmakers and citizens alike feel as though punishing someone who didn't have much of a choice in the matter is immoral.
Many people who work as prostitutes often say they didn't have a choice. When is comes to sex trafficking, most women have to do as they're told, or face almost-certain violence.
The Maine bill to decriminalize was sponsored by Lois Reckitt, a democrat from South Portland. However, the bill has garnered bipartisan support from a handful of republican lawmakers. Breaking with the majority of her party, Maine governor, Janet Mills, has vetoed, and threatened to veto, similar bills.
According to an article from WGME 13,
Mills, a Democrat, wrote that she feared sex traffickers would use decriminalization to “entice more people into their trade” when she vetoed Reckitt’s last bill two years ago. Mills’ office did not respond to a request for comment Monday about this year’s proposal, although the Maine State Police opposed it in testimony earlier this year.
The bill, which passed the Maine House of Representatives in May 86-57, is expected to be voted on by the Maine Senate sometime this week, potentially as soon as today (Tuesday).
In addition to decriminalizing prostitution, the bill also seeks to INCREASE penalties for those who are soliciting for sex from a prostitute. In the proposed legislation, someone found to be soliciting sex from a prostitute would be would be increased from a Class D misdemeanor to a Class C felony, WGME reported.
Lois Reckitt, who is in her final term as a Maine representative due to her impending term limit, told WGME 13 in part,
“I have pledged to these survivors that before I step down, I will try to make sure I find every place in state government where they could be helped under current law. I feel we have a societal responsibility to help these women make their lives whole again.”
We will continue to follow this story as we expect the bill to head to a Maine Senate vote sometime this week.