A Conversation with Rep. Galgay Reckitt: Maine Listened to Victims of Sexual Exploitation
Maine Rep. Galgay Reckitt is a feminist, human rights and LGBTQ activist and domestic violence advocate. Per WABI5, “Reckitt is renowned as a relentless activist on behalf of women.”
Rep. Reckitt heard the stories of dozens of survivors of sexual exploitation and spearheaded a multi-year, bi-partisan campaign to educate her fellow Maine legislature members about the impact of prostitution and worked with both the victims and the legislators to craft a better solution than legalization or harsher penalties.
On June 26, 2023, Governor Janet Mills signed “An Act to Reduce Commercial Sexual Exploitation”, eliminating the crime of engaging in prostitution but the act maintained penalties for sex traffickers and patrons.
Two weeks later, the Maine legislature passed “An Act to Provide Remedies for Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation” which mandates the state offer comprehensive services survivors need to help rebuild their lives. It also seals the records of prostitution convictions so survivors no longer need fear discrimination in employment or housing due to a previous conviction.
Maine is the first state in the nation to adopt a legal framework known as the Equality Model. Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, France, the Republic of Ireland, and Israel have implemented this framework designed to end the system of prostitution by targeting the demand for it as a tool to prevent sex trafficking and change cultural norms that overwhelmingly dehumanize women and girls.
Rep. Reckitt will share with us the stories, considerations and motivations, the process of education and working for bi-partisan solutions, and how the new system is being accepted.