Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Trafficking survivors fight legal prostitution

Human Trafficking | Lawsuit targets Nevada’s law permitting sex work
by Mary Jackson
Posted 10/23/20, 02:01 pm

Two alleged victims of sex trafficking in Nevada are taking their case to a federal appeals court in an effort to shut down the nation’s only legal brothels.

Rebekah Charleston and Angela Delgado-Williams sued the state in 2019 saying its legal brothel industry violated their constitutional rights and federal sex trade and slavery statutes. Both women say they were forced into prostitution, trafficked, and abused in Nevada because of its 1971 prostitution law. A federal judge dismissed their case, ruling they could not sufficiently prove the harm they endured resulted from the state’s laws. Lawyers for the women will argue their case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 9.

In the United States, legalized prostitution occurs in only seven rural Nevada counties with a total of 21 legal brothels. Recent attempts to decriminalize prostitution have made little headway in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Legalizing prostitution does not empower women or create safer conditions for them, Charleston said. She told how a trafficker took her from Texas to Nevada after she ran away at age 17. She said she was repeatedly raped and abused in a legal brothel: “I think once you’ve lived a single day in the life, once you’ve had a single act of prostitution, you know … prostitution is about the power and control men have over women’s bodies, that women are a commodity to be bought and sold.”

Nevada has the nation’s highest rate of illegal sex trade—63 percent more than that of New York and nearly double that of Florida, according to a 2018 study by the Human Trafficking Initiative. The state’s sex tourism “thrives on the demand that Nevada’s legal scheme has bolstered,” said Christen Price, an attorney with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and co-counsel in Charleston and Delgado-Williams’ case. The lawsuit argues the state’s legalized brothel industry violates the 13th Amendment by creating conditions that enable slavery in the form of sex trafficking and involuntary sexual servitude.

Charleston escaped sex trafficking with the help of a church and federal authorities: “This case … gives me hope that no other woman has to go through what I went through.”

Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow her on Twitter @mbjackson77.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • FC
    Posted: Mon, 10/26/2020 09:05 pm

    I hate bumper sticker solutions.  But here is one for Nevada to consider regarding prostitution.  Make every prostitute get a license.  In person, Just like a driver's license.. To get a license to be a prostitute you have to bring all your documents to prove you are who you are, the right age, and pass a test that you understand the rules. It cannot be someone on your behalf. Do you want a prostitution license?  Okay, then here is the test.  When they are finished, assuming they understood the laws, start asking questions.  Were you brought here by someone else?  Are they here? Can we speak to them?  If not are you being forced to get this license?  If so, we have a backdoor for you to go out. You can talk confidentially with a social worker who will take you to a safe house where you cannot be found and protected by police. You may be visited by investigators who may ask you how you got here and who forced you to apply for a prostitution license

  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 10/27/2020 09:52 am

    I do not think you are getting the point. Prostitution is wrong!  It damages people (primarily females). The bad people running this have made more than enough money off of “sexual slavery” to overcome all the protections that have been put in place in the past.  They will figure out how to get around any new “protections” you put in place now. That is the nature of evil!  You cannot possibly win, without Jesus!