ACTION ALERT! ACTION ALERT! ACTION ALERT!
Why we need this bill:
Sex workers face high levels of violence– 60% of sex workers have experienced violence while working. When sex workers are victims of violence, most don’t report it to the police for fear of arrest.
Prostitution is increasing as poverty, income inequality and homelessness rise – with mothers, young people, LGBTQ, people of color and others doing this work to survive and pay bills.
If sex workers safety is prioritized all women will be safer. Historically, serial rapists and murderers often start by targeting sex workers, and then move on to attack other women. When attacks go unreported violent men are left free to strike again. In South LA, over 200 Black women, many but not all of whom were sex workers, have been killed or gone missing. Over a 30 year period, these murders were ignored by the police who labelled them NHI “No Humans Involved”. Evidence which points to racism and other discrimination in the implementation of the prostitution laws mean that women of color will be less able to report crimes to the police.
SB 233 is a major step forward in tackling the widespread rape and other violence suffered by sex workers. It sends a message that sex workers’ safety and protection is prioritized over arrest. When those who target the most vulnerable among us are stopped, all women and all people will be safer. This bill will save lives.
SB 233 will also enhance health. When condoms aren’t used as evidence, sex workers will be more able to insist on condom use with clients and access health services.
SAMPLE LETTER TO ASSEMBLYMEMBERS
Subject: Support for SB 233
I’m writing in support of SB 233. This bill prioritizes the health and safety of people engaged in sex work over criminalizing them. SB 233 prohibits the arrest of sex workers when they come forward as a witness or a victim to report serious crimes. This bill also clarifies that the possession of condoms may not be used as probable cause to arrest someone for sex work.
Sex workers are victims of violent crimes at a disproportionately higher rate; women of color and trans sex workers suffer disproportionately. 60% of sex workers experience some form of violence while working. 40% of sex workers said that when they reported violence their interactions with police were negative, and for this reason most don’t report. Attackers therefore are left free to attack again. We have seen how serial attackers start with sex workers and go on to attack other women; so ensuring that sex workers can report violence will help improve safety for all women. Most sex workers are mothers, working to support families, and should be entitled to the same protections as others.
A fact sheet for the bill states: “the criminalization of prostitution results in sex workers largely not trusting law enforcement due to fear that they will be arrested or mistreated.” This is particularly true for street-based sex workers, women of color and trans women who face the most harassment and arrests.
Using condoms as evidence of sex work goes against the policies of the Health Department, which promotes condom use. SB 233 will enhance the health and safety of sex workers.
I’m therefore urging you to vote yes in support of this lifesaving bill. When violent attackers who target the most vulnerable among us are stopped, all women and all people will be safer.
Action Alert issued by US PROStitutes Collective