Bill sponsors Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, and Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, speak in support of House Bill 1288 on the House floor on Friday, March 18, 2022. 

The Colorado House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation Monday that seeks to allow sex workers to report violent crime without fear of being arrested.

If enacted, House Bill 1288 would grant victims and witnesses of violent crime immunity from prostitution-related charges when reporting the crime to police. The bill will now be sent to the state Senate for consideration in the coming weeks.

“This bill recognizes the humanity of these folks who are vulnerable people who shouldn't have to become victims and be punished for a pretty crime such as prostitution,” said bill sponsor Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “It's wonderful that my fellow representatives agree with this commonsense policy.”

In addition to receiving bipartisan support, the bill also has bipartisan sponsorship, with two Republican men and two Democratic women leading the legislation.

Titone said she started working on the bill last year after her friend, Pasha Ripley, told her about when she was brutally beaten and raped by a client while Ripley was a sex worker.

“The last thing he said as he walked out the door was, ‘Who are you going to tell? What are you going to do?’ Because if I go to the police, it’s very likely that I would be arrested,” Ripley said while testifying in support of the bill during a committee meeting.

Supporters of the bill described sex workers as “easy targets” who are specifically chosen by criminals because they are less likely to go to the police.

Of adult sex workers, 82% have been physically assaulted, 83% have been threatened with a weapon, 68% have been violently raped and 84% were or are currently homeless, according to the Academic Journal of Women’s Health.

Under the bill, victims would receive immunity from prosecution-related crimes when reporting human trafficking, stalking, kidnapping, assault and murder.

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