Sex Worker Groups Call for Removal of Discriminatory Regulations

For immediate release…What:  Press conference and Community  Forum

When: Tuesday, November 12, 5:30pm; Community Forum at 6pm

Re:  Denying sex worker victims of rape from compensation from CalVCP

Where:  SF Public Library, Latino/Hispanic room, lower level, 100 Larkin, SF

Contact:  Rachel West, US PROStitutes Collective (415) 640-4250/Maxine Doogan, Erotic Service Providers Union (415)265-3302

Sex Workers Groups Call for Removal of Discriminatory Regulations

Speakers from sex worker and other organizations are holding a press conference and community forum as part of their campaign to get rid of Regulation 649.56 Involvement in the Qualifying Crime of Prostitution which denies victims of rape who are sex workers from getting compensation in the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP).  In addition to sex worker organizations, speakers include: All of Us or None (a grassroots civil rights organization fighting for the rights of formerly – and currently – incarcerated people and their families) and the ACLU. The Forum organizers are also calling for the scrapping of Regulation 649.2 (b), which denies compensation to former prisoners who are victims of rape and other violent crimes.

Rachel West of the US PROStitutes Collective says: “Denying compensation based on involvement in the crime of prostitution is blaming the victims and dividing us into who is worthy and who isn’t. Compensation for rape is official acknowledgement  that you have been through a horrendous and damaging experience with resulting physical, emotional and other damage.  When a rape victim is not compensated, it sends a message that rape is tolerated or even encouraged.  Victims are stigmatized and it leads to more violence.”

 Maxine Duggan of the Erotic Service Providers Union adds: “The Obama administration stated in the 2010 United Nations review of human rights that no one who faces violence should be denied access to public services on the basis of sexual orientation or status as a person in prostitution. Removing this discriminatory regulation will set a new standard in California in line with the stated Obama administration policy.”

Kate Horton, a doctoral  student at UCSF and part of the working group organizing the event, says: “As a woman I feel strongly that sexual violence should never be permissible. Regulation 649.56 not only discriminates against sex workers, but sends a message that rape is more serious for some than it is for others. To protect all women from sexual violence we need to remove these double-standards.

Carol Leigh from BAYSWAN says: “This unjust exclusion of sex workers from compensation is sending a shocking and wrong message to the public saying that people can commit crimes against sex workers or those that they perceive to be sex workers and that society just doesn’t care. This policy must be repealed.

 “The ACLU of  Northern California has a strong desire to see this regulation repealed,” says Kimberley Horiuchi, attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “It is imperative that the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board make victim compensation available to all victims of crime.”

The campaign to get rid of the discriminatory regulations  has received  broad-based  support across California including  from women’s, prisoners’ rights, LGBT, veterans and legal organizations as well as from religious institutions.  After hearings held on February 28, May 23 and September 9 which featured testimony from sex workers and other women, the CalVCP’s Board has called for a review of the regulation and a proposal on 649.56 will be presented at their December 12 meeting in Sacramento.  Our community forum November 12 aims to build further public support.

Event Planning group: BAYSWAN; Elisa Eoceguera; Erotic Service Providers Union; F*WORD; In Defense of Prostitute Women’s Safety Project; Kate Horton, student; Legal Action for  Women; Queer Strike; Sex Workers Outreach Project; Sin Barras: US PROStitutes Collective.

Event Endorsers:  ACLU of Northern California;  All of Us or None; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; Children of the Night; Coalition on Homelessness; Critical Resistance, Oakland; Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club;  Jeff Adachi, Public Defender; Justice Now; National Lawyers Guild, SF; POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE; San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium; San Francisco for Democracy; San Francisco Green Party.

Supporters who signed to oppose the regulations  also include: Alexandria House;  California Crime Victims;  Californians United for Responsible Budget; Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project; Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; Faithful Fools Street Ministry; Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace; Global Women’s Strike; Harm Reduction Coalition; LA CAN;  Long Beach Area Peace Network; Los Angeles Community Action Network;  Orange County Peace Coalition;  Veterans For Peace chapters 067 and 110.


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