City of San Francisco Resolution Commending the Work of the US PROStitutes Collective to End Violence and Criminalization

WHEREAS The US PROStitutes Collective (US PROS) is an organization of sex workers and supporters which for twenty seven years has campaigned for justice, protection and resources so that no woman, man or child is forced into prostitution through poverty or other violence, and that the safety of all women and children is prioritized; and

WHEREAS US PROS comes out of a history in San Francisco of sex workers organizing for their rights from as far back as 1917 when five hundred prostitute women took over the Central Methodist church in the Tenderloin; and

WHEREAS US PROS addresses the sexism, racism and other discrimination that push women into prostitution such as low wages, unequal pay, welfare cuts, rape and domestic violence, debt, insecure immigration status, homelessness and more; and

WHEREAS US PROS has brought to the attention of communities and government representatives the ways in which criminalization and fear of arrest and deportation increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence as women are deterred from reporting attacks; and

WHEREAS in the early 1980s, US PROS spearheaded efforts to bring to public attention and stop the serial murders of mainly prostitute women on the West Coast, joining with the Coalition to Stop the Green River Murders in Seattle, and the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders in Los Angeles; and

WHEREAS in 1984, US PROS founded Legal Action for Women (LAW), a free legal service to defend sex workers’ and other women’s legal and civil rights; and

WHEREAS in 1994, US PROS was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution, set up because the “criminal nature of prostitution has led to widespread beatings and the victimization of prostitutes”, and played a key role in ensuring that the Task Force groundbreaking recommendations prioritized women’s safety and the situation of the most vulnerable sex workers such as women who work the streets and women of color; and

WHEREAS in 1996, US PROS and supporters launched a petition in City Hall for implementation of the Task Force recommendations, which according to a SF Examiner poll had the support of 66% of people in the City; and

WHEREAS in 1998, US PROS and LAW launched a two-year community project to seek justice for four victims, three of whom were prostitute women, monitoring the trial of serial rapist Jack Bokin — he was convicted and sentenced to 231 years in prison and stopped from attacking other women; and

WHEREAS in 1998, US PROS founded the In Defense of Prostitute Women’s Safety Project to provide support to victims of rape, sexual assault and other violence; and

WHEREAS in 1998, US PROS testified at the SF Commission on the Status of Women public hearing on “Violence against Women and Girls in Prostitution”, and with Supervisor Tom Ammiano coordinated a public hearing in City Hall on “How to Stop Violence against Prostitute Women and other Sex Workers” which culminated in the Board of Supervisor’s resolution “Mitigating Violence against Prostitutes” passed in 2000; and

WHEREAS US PROS has built a wide network of support for implementation of the resolution, including unanimous support from the Human Rights Commission, the Immigrant Rights Commission and the Youth Commission, as well as from religious communities, residents, lawyers, and many other organizations and individuals; and

WHEREAS US PROS is coordinating a community-based initiative, Safety First: Protecting Sex Workers from Violence, which highlights sex workers’ continued vulnerability to rape and even murder, and urgently seeks to turn the resolution into an ordinance;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED to recognize the efforts and contribution of the US PROStitutes Collective to making San Francisco a place where everyone, whatever their sex, race, age, occupation or lifestyle, has the right to be free from attack and to have access to the resources they need to survive; and

 BE IT RESOLVED FURTHER to give a special recognition to lifelong campaigner for women’s rights and anti-racism Selma James from London, England, who is in San Francisco to speak on “Rape, Race and Prostitution: the Cash Connection” as part of a national speaking tour, who was the first spokeswoman of our sister organization the English Collective of Prostitutes and has been a key advisor to US PROS since its beginning, focusing on the demand for safety and financial independence which sex workers share with all other women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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