FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…
Sex Workers Urge Removal of Prostitution Clauses from Diversion Bill, SB 1110
Contact: Rachel West, US PROStitutes Collective 415-640-4250
Sex worker organizations and supporters will bring their concerns about Senate Bill 1110 to the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 9am, room 126 of the State Capitol. SB 1110 establishes a LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program in California. An ongoing campaign spearheaded by US PROS and backed by a growing list of sex worker and other organizations has been pressing legislators to remove the sex worker aspects from the bill.
SB 1110 was drafted without input from sex workers and goes against the demands of the sex worker movement internationally which is for decriminalization. It treats sex work not as a job but as a disease and sex workers not as workers but as offenders in need of treatment and rehabilitation.
“Some amendments have been made to the bill due to our efforts,” says Rachel West of US PROS, “But serious and new problems persist. LEAD is still law enforcement led. It gives the police the power to decide who gets arrested or not and who goes into the program, and puts access to services in police hands. The Oakland police scandal where officers abused their power and had sex with a young sex worker has exposed just how problematic this is.”
Similar programs in other places have not reduced criminalization. In Seattle (used as a model for SB 1110) during a four-month police and FBI undercover operation to clean-up downtown Seattle, hundreds of people were swept into the LEAD program. Given institutional racism and sexism, sex workers disproportionately impacted include trans, women of color and immigrants.
Rising poverty is increasing the numbers of women, particularly mothers, going into sex work. For those who want to get out of prostitution, they need money and resources not punitive rehabilitation programs.
The call for removal of the sex worker aspects of SB 1110 was initiated by US PROS and joined by: BAYSWAN; Black Trans Lives Matter; Coyote, Rhode Island; Desiree Alliance; Empower Foundation, Thailand; English Collective of Prostitutes; Erotic Services Providers Union; Kate Zen, Migrant Sex Workers Project, Canada; Red Umbrella Project; SWOP-USA and SWOP California-based chapters (Bay Area, Los Angeles and Sacramento). This call is also supported by All of Us or None; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; Los Angeles No More Jails Coalition and Youth Justice Coalition.