Action Alert: Stop bill increasing danger & stigma for sex workers



Action Alert!  Action Alert!  Action Alert!   

 Urgent action is needed to stop SB 1388, a bill currently in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee which will increase danger and stigma for sex workers. The Bill isfalsely entitled “Human Trafficking.”

 ►SB 1388 claims to amend sections of the Penal Code that relate to human trafficking. But the first of those sections relates to penalties imposed on adult sex workers’ clients. The second section relates to child prostitution. Neither of these offences are “trafficking” and to label them such is a deliberate and dishonest attempt to mislead. It was pushed through the California Senate with lack of public comment.►The issue of child prostitution, abuse and exploitation is used to misrepresent the true purpose of the bill, which is yet another crackdown on prostitution – the exchange of sex for money between two consenting adults. No distinction is made in the bill between the policing of men who pay for sex with children and those that pay adult sex workers.

►Imposing harsher penalties on sex workers’ clients is NOT an anti-trafficking strategy.  Police crackdowns most often lead to increased raids and arrests of sex workers. Women of color including immigrant women are disproportionately targeted.

Imposing harsher penalties on sex workers’ clients will not stop prostitution but it will make it more dangerous and stigmatizing to work. Sex workers risk being displaced to isolated and unsafe areas and will have less time to check out clients before agreeing to go with them, increasing sex workers’ vulnerability to rape and other violence.


 ►SB 1388 does nothing to address real needs like housing and income for youth and women, particularly mothers, involved in prostitution. Given that the social safety net for all Californians has been destroyed by severe cuts in social services, this bill will not help anyone escape violence.►Criminalizing clients disproportionately impacts people of color; police target men of color in street sweeps. This bill will fuel the racial disparities that already exist in jails and prisons, where people of color are in the majority.

►Fifty percent of the money collected in fines will be going to non-profits and law-enforcement, giving them a vested interest in the increased criminalization of prostitution, again leading to more arrests and encouraging corruption.

►Sex workers experience high levels of rape and other violence but this does not mean that prostitution is violence. To conflate the two implies that sex workers don’t know the difference between consenting sex and rape. Domestic violence is the most common form of violence; two women a week are killed by their partner or former partner, but no one would sensibly propose banning marriage.


 WHAT YOU CAN DO 1.  Urgently call, fax and email members of the Committee on Public Safety registering your opposition to the bill.

2. Come with us to speak against the bill at the Committee hearing, Tuesday, June 24 at 9am, State Capitol building, Room 126.

 Tom Ammiano: phone (916) 319-2017; fax (916) 319- 2117; email

Nancy Skinner: phone (916) 319-2015; fax (916) 319-2115; email

Melissa A Melendez: phone (916)319-2067; fax (916)319-2167; email

Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer Sr.: phone (916) 319-2059; fax (916) 319-2159; email

Bill Quirk: phone (916) 319-2020; fax (916) 319-2120 email

Mark Stone: phone (916) 319-2029; fax (916) 319-2129; email

Marie Waldron: phone (916) 319-2075; fax (916) 319-2175; email



Subject: Opposition to SB 1388

Dear Assemblymember:

I’m writing to voice my opposition to Senate Bill 1388 “Human Trafficking,” which claims to amend sections of the penal code that relate to trafficking, when actually it’s about consensual adult sex work, and child prostitution, neither of which are “trafficking.” Labeling these issues “human trafficking” is dishonest and misleading.

The criminalization of sex workers’ clients will not stop prostitution; it will drive it underground where it is more dangerous and stigmatizing for sex workers.

[Here you can elaborate about your situation and why you feel strongly about this issue.]

SB 1388 will increases the criminalization of sex workers, which will disproportionately impact people of color, both sex workers and men arrested in street sweeps. People of color and immigrants are already disproportionately targeted in crackdowns on sex work.  Increasing criminalization will fuel the racial disparities that exist in California’s overcrowded jails and prisons, where Black men and other people of color are in the majority.

Giving money collected from fines to law enforcement agencies and non-profits will give them a vested interest in increasing the criminalization of prostitution, leading to more arrests and encouraging corruption.

I urge you to oppose this bill, which is a deceitful attack on sex workers and people of color, who will be the true targets of increased criminalization of sex work, under the guise of human trafficking.


[Your Name]


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