From Westword Magazine online on March 22:
“For evidence that the 2017 Libertarian Party of Colorado State Convention, which takes place this weekend in Westminster (details below), is very different from the annual gatherings sponsored by Democrats and Republicans, look no further than the prominent speaking role reserved for Sarah ‘Daggers’ Stewart, a prominent advocate for the decriminalization of prostitution.
“A Libertarian activist based in Louisiana, Stewart believes laws that are designed to help prostitutes, including those who may have been forced into the activity against their will, actually cause more harm than good.
“‘I think focusing on the decriminalization of sex work is going to ultimately help save a lot of lives,’ she says. ‘I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think it was true, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t see the data to back it up.’
“A former member of the military, Stewart traces the roots of her interest in this subject to a brief time she spent working in law enforcement. After being placed on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, she recalls, ‘I got to see inside the drug war, and I saw many places where I felt like it was failing across the country. But there was also a grant that included prostitution in it, which I thought kind of strange. And as I started reading and doing research, I saw this correlation where they were trying to use these laws to save women, just like the D.A.R.E. program that Nancy Reagan pushed was trying to save the children.’
“The more she learned about prostitution laws, Stewart maintains, the more she came to the conclusion that they were wrongheaded. By her estimate, taxpayers spend more than $200 million annually on such policies even though ‘it seems from the data I’ve seen that what they’re doing is creating trafficking more than preventing it.’
“In her view, ‘if we could decriminalize sex work, or decriminalize prostitution specifically, prostitutes would be able to be protected. They would have jobs they could go to and go on other jobs without that label, that stigma, that’s there now. And they could get help if they needed it – if they were being harassed or abused or forced to do things they didn’t want to do. Those who didn’t want to be there by choice could get out, and they’d be recognized easier, as well. The person who’s going to be the first person to see if a sex worker is being victimized is typically a prostitute, and decriminalization will make it easier for them to get help for the person being victimized.'”
This year’s Libertarian Party of Colorado convention runs from March 24 -26 at the Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Blvd. in Westminster. Stewart’s talk, titled “When Helping Is Hurting; Prostitution” gets underway at 5 pm on Saturday the 25th. Click here for full details of the LPCO convention.
Click here to read the full interview.