Women of Color Say NO ON PROP 35

“The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (CASE Act) is on the November 2012 ballot (Proposition 35). The Act claims to address child trafficking by increasing fines and sentences, channeling money to victims’ services, promoting law enforcement training andclamping down on the organization of trafficking via the internet. The reality is very different.

Existing anti-trafficking measures are primarily being used to increase police powers to criminalize sex workers and target immigrant sex workers, in particular women of color, for arrest and deportation.” ( US PROStitutes Collective)

Women of Color Say NO ON PROP 35

Women of Color @ Global Women’s Strike strongly opposes  Prop 35. The proposition does nothing to improve the root causes of violence against women including trafficking. It takes money away from women and children who need it to survive and gives it to the police by expanding the definition of trafficking which will be used to further criminalize prostitution. Black and other women of color are already disproportionately targeted by law enforcement for harassment and arrest.  Black women are seven times more likely to get arrested for prostitution than white women and we can expect that even more Black women will be targeted by police and criminalized should Prop 35 become law. As welfare is cut more single mothers are forced into prostitution.  Sex work is one way that we have found to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. As US PROStitutes Collective says “poverty is the crime, not prostitutes.”  If Prop 35 passes many more mothers will be visiting their children through four inches of plexiglass in prisons.

We say no to criminalization of survival. We deserve and demand that money for the work mothers do be our funding priority. We call upon all California voters to reject Prop 35 and send a strong message to the initiator of Prop 25, billionaire Chris Kelley, and the rest of the 1%  that we will not accept incarceration and an expansion of the budget for police and prisons as the way to address women’s and girls’ vulnerability to violence,  including trafficking. There are already laws on the books that address kidnapping, assault, rape, battery, force, coercion and fraud. Enforcement of those laws would go a long way to address trafficking. Prop 35 which focuses almost exclusively on sexworkers does not address the fact that the vast majority of people who are trafficked end up working in sweatshops, the fields and as domestic workers. Prop 35 is not about protecting women from abuse but is part of a moralist crusade that targets and harasses sex workers, and if we’re immigrants, to target us for deportation.  Increased vulnerability to arrest and harassment from law enforcement makes us more vulnerable to violence for fear of being arrested. It would open the way for more abuses and violence committed by police in the course of raids.  The recent arrest of a man in Los Angeles accused of murdering at least 10 women over a 20 year period points to the danger inherent in Prop 35 which would make sex workers and people around them more reluctant to report crimes committed against them to the police. It would also discourage sex workers from from working together to increase their safety.

Rather than making women safer, Prop 35 would expand the trafficking industry, where NGOs and charities with vested interests promote trafficking as a huge problem in order to get funding.

Money in the hands of mothers and carers is an anti-trafficking measure. Economic power that supports our financial autonomy means we can make choices about how to take care of our needs that don’t make us easy victims of force, fraud, or coercion, which is what it means to be trafficked. NO ON 35.

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