Sex workers who are victims of violent crimes other than rape, sexual assault or domestic violence are still not covered under a statute in the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). We are asking for your support to change this. Last year a campaign led by sex workers in California won the repeal of CalVCP regulation 649.56 which denied sex workers compensation for rape. Although this was an important victory and a step in the right direction more needs to be done. We now have an opportunity for our voices to be heard and to push for change in CalVCP statutes and regulations. CalVCP will be holding two public forums to review and update their statutes. They say they are “embarking on a statute modernization project that includes a review and update of our current statutes”.
Changes we are now pressing for in CalVCP statutes and regulations
The CalVCP statute says that a victim who knowingly and willing “participated in the commission of a crime” (ie prostitution) and was injured as a result, can be denied compensation but not if the injury was rape, sexual assault or domestic violence. Sex workers who are beaten or suffer other violence are not eligible, thus blaming victims for the violence committed against them.
Sex workers who testified at previous CalVCP hearings about the prostitution rule, spoke about being raped but also of other traumatic and horrifying violence, such as being attacked at knife point, attempted repeated strangulation, having their head crushed and eardrums broken, being held captive overnight, beaten, and robbed. Although rape has its own particular horror and stigma, the other violence that victims suffer should not be excluded. Suffering such violence will likely be the source of long term trauma.
During our campaign we worked with former prisoners and prisoner rights groups and raised a number of other CalVCP discriminatory regulations and statutes including: Regulation 649.4(b) that specifies that CalVCP won’t pay compensation for rape and other violent crimes “while a person is on felony probation, parole or is incarcerated”. See more here on AB 1194 – a bill in the California legislature to stop this discrimination. Also, victims of violence who have been named in a gang injunction should not be excluded from compensation.
Sex workers are at constant risk of being charged with felonies, for example “pandering” for working with others, and also because many sex workers are formerly incarcerated people.
Most of the funding for the Compensation Program is extracted from prisoners paying restitution rather than being funded by the State. An article about the injustice caused by this is here.
Victims must not be compelled to co-operate with law enforcement as it may put them at risk of retaliation from their attacker. Victims may also be understandably reluctant considering that police/law enforcement are often hostile to victims of sexual and other violence, in particular if they are people of color and/or low income — police often fail to investigate, launch an “investigation into a rape victim, not a rape suspect” i and/or even try and prosecute the victim rather than the perpetrator.
What you can do:
► Add your name and/or the name of your organization or network to support much needed changes to the CalVCP program. Please sign below and send back to us.
___ Yes we support urgent changes in the CalVCP program
►Come up to the public forum in Sacramento on August 14 with us. Let CalVCP know that these discriminatory regulations and/or statutes must change! Let us know if you need to car pool or can get there on your own.
► If you aren’t able to be at the public forum in person you can testify by calling into the telephone conference call at 888-363-4734 – participant code is 802963. It is best to call in at the beginning of the forum (see times and locations above) and give your name and it will be put on a list, they are then supposed to call on you to speak during the forum.
► Please spread the word about these forums and share this info with others you know.
Action Alert issued by: US PROStitutes Collective.
i“ . . . just 8 percent of sexual assault cases reported to police end in prosecution and just 3 percent end in jail time for the accused, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Perhaps the fear that cases won’t be handled properly explains why just 40 percent of sexual assaults are reported to police in the first place.” http://thinkprogress.org/sports/2014/04/16/3427489/how-police-and-florida-state-university-botched-the-jameis-winston-sexual-assault-investigation/