Our efforts are paying off! As you know, US PROStitutes Collective and Sex Workers Outreach Project have been circulating letters, including a model letter to Senators, opposing a change in the law which would remove the need to prove “force, fraud or coercion” in trafficking charges (House Bill 3887, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007.) Many of you have contacted Senators in response to this, outlining your concerns that the Bill would be used to target and deport immigrant people, and promote a moralistic and dangerous crusade against sex workers. Thank you for making your voice heard.
Senate Bill 3061 which excludes the bad provisions in HR 3887 that we were all protesting about is now before the Senate! This is an amazing victory given the alliance between the Bush administration and the “fundamentalist feminists” (formerly the anti-porn lobby) who joined forces to push those amendments claiming to know what is best for sex workers.
Pressure is still needed to prevent those amendments being put back in. Please continue to call and write your Senator, including those on the Senate Judiciary Committee (list below) where the bill is currently. Let them know you support the SB 3061 retaining proof of “force, coercion and fraud” in trafficking case prosecutions, and not an expansion of the discredited Mann Act and a new ‘sex trafficking’ offense. (See attached letter and briefing for more information).
Your ongoing efforts on these key issues is part of an increasing movement of people determined to spell out how trafficking is being used primarily to target sex workers and increase deportations. We saw this in practice recently in Operation Cross Country. Under the guise of stopping child trafficking, a five-day long federal sweep targeting 16 cities resulted in the arrest of “290 adult prostitutes”. These crackdowns and increased criminalization force women underground and deter us from reporting violence and exploitation.
We recently marked the fifth anniversary of the successful decriminalization of prostitution in New Zealand. A government review found: ● No rise in numbers of women working ● Women able to report violence without fear of arrest ● Attacks cleared up more quickly ● Judges rule that sex workers are entitled to expect protection ● Drug users viewed as patients not criminals ● Women find it easier to leave prostitution as convictions are cleared from their records.
Let us know if you would like a copy.
The Senate Judiciary members include: Patrick J. Leahy (Chairman, D-Vermont), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware), Herb Kohl (D- Wisconsin), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Russell D Feingold (D-Wisconsin), Charles E. Schumer (D-New York), Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Maryland), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) Arlen Specter (Ranking member R-Pennsylvania), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina, John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma). These Senators are key at the moment because the bill is in committee, but all Senators will vote in the end.
If your Senator is not listed, please write them now. If you don’t know who your Senator is or how to contact them please click here and follow the directions: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/