November 10, 2018

The Midterm Battle Around Legalized Prostitution Nobody’s Talking About

Originally published on

While most people have been focused on the partisan rancor during the midterm elections, a strenuous fight to end legalized sexual exploitation has slipped under the mainstream radar.

Organizations like Awaken, Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, survivors like Rebekah Charleston and advocates such as Melissa Farley among others, have  been focused on a local vote with the potential to end legalized brothels and prostitution in Lyon County, Nevada.

Why End Legal Brothels?

Prostitution is inherently linked to sexual violence and irreversibly tied to sex trafficking. #enddemand Click To Tweet

Research consistently shows prostituted women experience high rates of sexual violence, most often at the hands of sex buyers. And legalization does not erase sexual violence in prostitution.

In Germany, where prostitution is legal, 59% of women in prostitution reported that it was not any safer, and across several countries, 89% wanted to exit prostitution but felt like they had no viable alternative.

One woman who survived being prostitution in two legal brothels in Nevada, shared her story, stating: “The violent-natured men I encountered in legal brothels are no different than the men buying sex on the streets. I cannot count the number of times I physically fought with men in the brothels and how many times I have been raped because I was too scared to fight back.”

In any context outside of the commercial sex trade the omnipresent and vicious abuse of women would be met with national outrage and action. But in the current climate, as long as this violence occurs in the sex trade by sex buyers and pimps, this trauma is conveniently reduced to a “workplace safety” issue.

Pornography is always a part of this sphere as well. On their websites most legal brothels in Nevada sell pornography of the women, have live webcam “shows,” and sell advertising space to mainstream porn websites.

And as if that isn’t enough, a 2013 study of 150 countries from the London School of Economics found that wherever prostitution was legal, sex-trafficking tended to increase, not decrease. Why would this be the case? Because once prostitution is legal, the demand for it skyrockets. This means that both pimps and sex traffickers are incentivized to bring more bodies to market, to meet that demand.

Knowing this, we shouldn’t be surprised that an audit of legal brothels in Nevada foundthat a significant number of the women had red flags for being sex trafficking victims in this supposedly “safe and regulated” industry. In fact, adjusted for population, Nevada has the highest rates of an illegal sex trade in the nation. It is 63% higher than the next highest state of NY and double that of California.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post,, Washington Examiner,, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

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