FACT CHECK: Does Kamala Harris Plan to Legalize Prostitution in the US?

The debate stems from an 2019 interview of Harris where she talks about decriminalizing sex work.

It has been just four days since Kamala Harris was declared the Vice-President elect and there are still more than two months to go before she officially comes to power. However, there is already a lot of discussion and debate going on about the plans Harris has once she assumes office.

While time will only tell how Harris performs as the Vice President, some have been quite fast to point out some of the bad endeavors that she was part of during her job as an attorney in Chicago and San Francisco. And one of the recent subjects of debate is if Harris is planning to legalize prostitution.

Social media has been abuzz over the past couple of days with users trying to verify the truth behind Harris' plans of legalizing prostitution in the United States. No doubt, if such a step is taken, it might create uproar in the country and that is what has made Harris a hot topic of discussion on social media over the past few days.

What are Harris' Plans?

 Kamala Harris
Washington, Aug. 20, 2020 (Xinhua) -- File photo taken on June 27, 2019 shows Senator Kamala Harris of California being interviewed after the second night of the first Democratic primary debate in Miami, Florida, the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS) Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS

The discussion on social media stems from a 2019 interview of Harris to The Roots, wherein she said prostitution should be decriminalized. However, she also stated that it should come with caveats. She had earlier too had spoken about decriminalizing sex work but the interview was a dramatic shift for her given that she had different stance till sometime back.

A part of that interview recently found its way to a conservative Christian YouTube channel, 'For Such A Time As This', during the election season. Harris and her policies have time and again been subject of scrutiny by conservative media outlets and this excerpt from the interview was fast picked up by social media users.

The interview supported claims of Harris in favor of legalizing prostitution and since then has been a hot topic of discussion, with many still trying to find out its authenticity.

However, what many failed to understand that Harris didn't mean legalizing sex work. There is a fine line between decriminalization and legalization. The interview is real but Harris' comments definitely have been misinterpreted.

What Harris Actually Meant

Decriminalization involves removing criminal sanctions on an act or behavior, while legalization is the process of removing legal prohibitions against it. Pixabay

Harris did speak about decriminalizing prostitution but not legalizing it. Decriminalization involves removing criminal sanctions on an act or behavior, while legalization is the process of removing legal prohibitions against it.

The YouTube channel's host James Pittman can be seen criticizing Harris which further made social media users believe that she plans to legalize sex work but what she actually said is quite complicated and needs to be understood. Legalizing sex work means an "entire industry of prostitutes" which will be like no one will be able to harm these women but then prostitution is harmful to women in itself. However, Harris states something completely different. She stressed on decriminalization, which means that carrying out an act of sex or behavior will no longer land that person with a jail sentence or criminal record.

However, Harris' interview hasn't gone down well with many, while many users still remain confused as she had been singing a different before that. In fact, in 2008 when she was district attorney, she was a vocal opponent of Proposition K, a ballot measure intended to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco. She called the effort "completely ridiculous", which now has further left people guessing about her actual plans.