Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime

Don't decriminalize prostitution in S.F.
The San Francisco Chronicle September 6, 2008
Highlights - Again Street Prostitution Decrim will never pass.


(The proponents) even admit that, if you live in a neighborhood like, say, Capp Street in the Inner Mission, where the prostitution trade is pervasive and the many things that accompany it - violence, drugs, sirens - run rampant, things might get worse if this measure passes.

But hey, that's a small price to pay for progressive policy, isn't it?

Sex work is a dangerous profession, and many of those who work in the trade are suffering in other ways - whether it's because they have been the victims of the international trade in human trafficking that is an enormous problem in San Francisco, or because they are addicted to drugs, or because they are former foster children without parents or homes. We don't believe that people who engage in sex work should be ignored when they suffer violence or assault, and we would appreciate it if the Police Department used prostitution arrests as a way to guide those in trouble toward programs that could help them.

But Prop. K is not the way to achieve this.

When they came to speak to us, Prop. K's proponents didn't seem interested in how it will work on a practical - as opposed to philosophical - basis. Perhaps that's because, in reality, the measure won't work.

Prohibiting the Police Department from conducting sex-traffic investigations that involve a racial profiling component (certain countries in Asia and Eastern Europe are disproportionately involved in the trade) will, shock, allow sex trafficking to flourish. Decriminalizing prostitution will, shock, lead to more open sightings and solicitations of it in the areas of the city that already see enough of it.

And while the proponents cite the example of New Zealand to claim that there won't be a "magnet" effect - e.g., more prostitutes traveling into the city - San Francisco is not New Zealand, and the BART train is not the Pacific Ocean. In the tightly knit and densely populated Bay Area, why wouldn't this measure draw more prostitution to the city?

If this is just the beginning of where this measure will lead, then we really don't want to see the end.

Four years ago, the citizens of Berkeley faced a decriminalization measure on their ballot. Berkeley is a city that believes in taking progressive risks, not conservative thinking. And yet the people of Berkeley were sensible enough to think through all of the rotten implications of this idea four years ago, and overwhelmingly reject the measure. The citizens of San Francisco should do the same.

 

Vote no on Prop. K.

Dave poted these comments

Too bad this prop isn't just about in private sexwork which is probably 90% of sexwork, which is legal without major issues in almost all the world except the U.S. But they insist on the right of the 10% that are street hookers which will never pass and other than in New Zealand is not legal. Zones have been tried in Europe Communities are in uproar in New Zealand. The San Francisco task force on prostitution was only approved because the neighborhood groups walked out in protest. Yes police policies about working with street hookers where they can report crime etc should be changed. Arrested street hookers should be helped with rehab and to get off the streets into legal off street or outcall again legal in almost all the world except the U.S. But many street hookers do not want rehab etc. That is sad. But decrim of this public nuisance is not the answer and it hurts the image of the 90% of private sexworkers who respect the community enough not to be on the streets.

8/16/08 Update San Francisco Decriminalization Ballot Initiative Update
 

Endorsement from the Democratic Party ??
 

SWOP is yelping "we SUCCEEDED in our efforts to secure endorsement from the Democratic Party!"

Well... not quite.
They won endorsement from The Democratic Central Committee of San Francisco", not the State DCC or of course not the National DCC.

This after a one minute presentation where I doubt the DCC of SF even realized it included public nuisance street hookers.

See report Proposition K to Decriminalize Prostitution in San Francisco Endorsed by the Democratic Central Committee

 at http://deepthroated.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/proposition-k-to-decriminalize-prostitution-in-san-francisco-endorsed-by-the-democratic-central-committee/ This is similar to what I thought was a terrible job by Carol Leigh on The O'Reilly Factor. Bill didn't even realize it included street hookers since he kept mentioning that it won't work since most are on drugs with pimps and not able to get off the street, thinking it was about private sexwork. Carol never corrected him but just went on about how the New Zealand model works etc. In New Zealand there is a loud outcry from upset homeowners and businesses about street hookers. However the New Zealand report (previously linked here) is very positive and useful in arguing for private sexwork.

The ballot initiative in SF will be interesting to follow. But if folks realize it includes the right to be a public nuisance street hooker, it will fail miserably as it did in Berkeley. If it passes it will be interesting to see what the State of California does since it can enforce prostitution laws even if the City of San Francisco can't.

There are a lot of good points in the initiative - if it was limited to private sexwork I would be totally supportive and doing everything I could to promote it. But in my opinion it hurts private sexworkers that are far different from the street hookers that the public sees and detests, giving all sexwork a bad rap since that is what the public sees.

Extensive articles and updates are at http://www.prostitutionballotmeasure.com

Too bad we don't have this much energy and good organization for PRIVATE consenting adults without the street hookers - that would have a great chance at passing in SF and other cities in my opinion based on poll results etc.
 

The San Francisco Democratic Party does not yet show their endorsement of it (Proposition K). Website is http://www.sfdemocrats.org/article.php?list=type&type=24

Another Blow to Private Sexwork

Street hooker Defeat Coming in San Francisco
July 18, 2008

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. "This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults," said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. "We've cleared the first hurdle." By the Elections Department's tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

Mayor Gavin Newsom says the measure would hurt the city's ability to investigate and prosecute sex-trafficking crimes.

SF District Attorney Kamala Harris says, ""This measure is nothing more than a welcome mat for prostitutes and pimps to come and hang out in San Francisco."

Dave notes - Like the failed Berkeley ballot measure a few years ago the idea is great - but is domed to defeat because it includes street hookers. If it only was for in private consenting adult prostitution it would have a great chance. But insisting on the right of street hookers to be a public nuisance will again hurt the cause for those that respect the public and only work in private, not on the streets.  If only there was a similar effort for just private prostitution/sexwork.

"It is way past time that the recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented," said the measure's proponent, Maxine Doogan. "Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long."

Dave notes- the 1996 Task Force recommendation was only agreed upon by the task force after representatives of neighborhood groups walked out in protest because it would encourage street hookers in their neighborhoods.

I have always supported efforts for zones of tolerances in cities where street hookers can be protected. But in Europe where tried they have all failed with huge public outcry. I also encourage safe incalls but the sexworker groups insist on the right of the street hooker to be a public nuisance and therefore will continue to fail as they always have around the world. Outcall is legal in almost all the world except the U.S. and incalls vary legally. But street hookers are only legal in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In the Netherlands about 45% of prostitutes work in sex clubs and private homes, 20% in window prostitution, 15% in escort services 5% in their own homes and 5% on the streets. When there are other legal options only a few choose to work on the streets. Prostitutes/sex workers have access to the social security system, may join unions, have to pay income tax and are treated like any other self-employed tradesperson. Health and social services are readily available, but people who work in the sex industry are not required to register or undergo mandatory health checks. Source: Wikipedia

One of hundreds of comments (including mine) in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The San Francisco plan for prostitution is simply going to mean that pimps and prostitutes will abound in working class areas of the city and make life miserable for the people who live there. I would favor the proposal if it specified that the prostitutes must work only in the City Hall Plaza. I suspect that the enthusiasm of both the Board of Supervisors and the voters would evaporate if they and their families had to walk through pimps, customers, and prostitutes on a daily basis. On the other hand, it would be the first time in history that honest business were conducted at City Hall.

Result is they arrest more customers since only the prostitutes would be protected.
As pointed out in a San Francisco discussion board, the result could be only arresting customers which could be the police reaction if it was passed. As pointed out, "The radical feminists who are working with SAGE are the ones who want " Swedish " style of decriminalization.... where clients side alone is prosecuted." And, "I think that by its failure to address *both* sides of the equation, the measure may turn out to be very short-sighted, and ultimately counterproductive for sex workers."

But State of California Could Enforce State Law
"It also might present a major challenge to state sovereignty. If California cities do not have to enforce state laws, then the entire notion of the sovereign state collapses. The California legislature might have to change jurisdictional laws to impose a state police force on San Francisco."

But I think it will fail terribly since it includes public nuisance street hookers.

' One of the best comments which is what the proposal SHOULD be about- off the street - but isn't:
"Prostitution is the oldest profession. You can outlaw it from now to doomsday and it's not going anywhere! It goes underground, on the street corner and is rife with crime and the criminal element. You decriminalize it, you get it off the street, and put it where it belongs, behind closed doors where consenting adults enter into a contractual agreement. It's going to happen whether you like it or not."

More good comments from various sources:
"The claims that decriminalizing prostitution would make it harder to prosecute human trafficking are totally unfounded. What evidence is there of this? If prostitution were decriminalized, then that would free up resources that could be used to fight actual cases of human trafficking. Nonconsensual prostitution would still be criminalized under (other) laws, so this legislation would not decriminalize or make it harder to prosecute trafficking. Equating all prostitution with trafficking does nothing to stop trafficking, but has resulting in trafficking legislation that seems more focused on persecuting sex workers than stopping human trafficking."

"To the people who equate all prostitution with trafficking, I have a question: Since when does persecuting, raping, and beating sex workers stop human trafficking? When I ask this, I'm not just speaking hypothetically. I'm referring to what's happening in Cambodia after Cambodia passed anti-prostiutution legislation equating all prositution with trafficking, under pressure from the U.S. government. Since this legislation passed, there have been mass arrests against Cambodian sex workers in which they have been taken to a detention center and routinelygang raped, beaten, and robbed by police and guards. Furthermore, HIV positive sex workers have been denied needed medical care and at least 3 Cambodian sex workers have died in police custody. The criminalization of prostitution encourages such human rights violations and needs to be abolished."

"The original purpose for sex-prostitution was to provide for the pleasure of sex which is a basic human need. Corruption soon took over and now we associate the sex prostitute as bad, dirty and criminal especially in America I think. America does not know how to party without ruining it and making a pleasurable thing, sex, a bad and corrupt thing. we need to grow up and stop the 'War' and start enjoying life. (Learn from Europe perhaps)."

"(Street) prostitution is disgusting. the women on the streets in sf are in very bad shape. junkies, diseased etc. no one chooses that life unless they are desperate. making it legal makes no difference. desperate women will still go there. stories of celebrity hookers making thousands of dollars are grossly exaggerated. think about what they do dozens of times a night with men who just may be pigs. and the shelf life of a hooker is pretty limited. no one wants hookers in their neighborhoods. the best thing that can happen is a few months in jail to get clean and nourished and, maybe, helped in some meaningful way. time and money would be better spent locking them up and then figuring out a way to help them."

' The Pro Street Hooker Right to be a Public Nuisance Argument by "Starchild"
He is one of the leading activists for the decrim of street hookers movement that will fail in San Francisco like in Berkeley.
He articulates his side well. I simply believe that including street hookers in decrim will never pass and hurts the chances of private sexwork decrim.
This is his response to my e-mail (below it) which was in response to his e-mail wanting me to promote their decrim of street hooker proposal on sexwork.com
Since I want both sides of the issue to be expressed I am also including this after my article in response at http://www.sexwork.com/coalition/SFvoters.html

Dave,
I'm sorry to hear your perspective is not as pro-decriminalization as I'd assumed it would be. Nobody's asserting the right to do anything in public that harms anyone else. At some point, people simply need to realize that the presence of human sexuality is not a "nuisance." Those who claim it is a nuisance are bigoted and they are wrong. Of course property owners tend not to want *anything* in their neighborhoods that they perceive as bringing down property values or detracting from peace and quiet, whether it be a medical cannabis dispensary, a bar, a dance club, a homeless shelter, a youth facility, etc. But they should not have the legal right to dictate what happens where unless it's on their private property. Otherwise the result is that all the "socially undesirable" businesses and land uses are simply pushed into poorer neighborhoods where residents tend to be less organized and have less political clout to keep them out of the area. Legitimate complaints against offenses like noise, violence, littering, harassing people, or the like, can all be dealt with on their own merits, without criminalizing prostitution.

Regarding Carol Leigh's appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show, she should not have been expected to prove a negative, such as proving that all prostitutes are not hooked on drugs. I strongly believe in the longstanding legal principle of "innocent until proven guilty," and if someone like O'Reilly is going to make allegations like that, the ball is in his court to provide the statistics and evidence to back them up. Saying that the only solution to the violence against street prostitutes is to get them off the streets is clearly blaming the victims. The reality is that black markets always bring violence and other crime, and the sometimes presence of these things in connection with prostitution is not due to the nature of prostitution itself -- selling sexual services has no more intrinsic connection with violence than does selling sports tickets -- but is simply a consequence of the fact that prostitution has been criminalized.

It's useful to be aware of current political realities and attitudes, in order to be able to more effectively address concerns and advance one's cause. But arguments that social justice is not politically practical or even worse that it "never" will be, do not impress me. Indeed such arguments strike me as doing the other side's dirty work for them. Long-established injustices are rarely overcome easily, and pushing for radical change helps swing the whole debate in that direction and makes other more incremental changes look moderate and "reasonable" (in the eyes of those not yet tolerant enough to embrace the more just radical solutions) by comparison.

Someone has to stand up and speak truth to power. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, the time is always right to do the right thing. The abolition of plantation slavery, women's suffrage, and GLBTQ rights all looked like hopelessly impractical causes at one time or another, and it took years of stubborn people insisting on unpopular changes before significant progress was realized.

Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))

On Jul 27, 2008, at 5:45 PM, Dave in Phoenix wrote:
Starchild.
Sorry but I think the SF situation actually hurts the cause and is doomed to total failure as in Berkeley since it insists on the right of street hookers to be a public nuisance. That will never be accepted in the U.S. nor most of the world. Big outcry now in New Zealand. I support zones, but they have been total failures where tried in Europe.

I believe sexwork should be only in private consenting adults, not in the face of the public. The public outcry around the world over street workers is very legitimate in my view. It hurts the cause for the 90% of private sexworkers who are lumped in with the street hookers often using drugs and with pimps.

Carol Leigh was on O'Reily a few days ago. While I disagree with Bill on many issues, she had no good counter to his assertion that prostitutes are all hooked on drugs etc and should not be legitimized. He mistakenly thought it was about off street only and his point was street hookers are not going to go offstreet and abide by rules etc.

PRIVATE sexwork at least outcall is legal in almost all the world except the U.S. with no need to regulate, have health checks etc (Canada the closest example). Incall rules vary from tolerance in Canada, to one gal per flat in the U.K. to public brothels in Australia and New Zealand. But street work is illegal in almost all the world and in New Zealand is resulting in huge citizen outcry.

The only solution to the violence against street hookers is to GET THEM OFF THE STREETS! And for those addicted into drug rehab but most refuse. But as long as you insist on them being on the street you have almost no broad public support.

In independent public opinion polls including one in CA, the vast majority of the public does not want police/court/DA resources wasted going after private sexwork. But almost no one wants street hookers in their neighborhoods. That is why all attempts have failed due to your insistence on the right to be a public nuisance.

I have an article on sexwork.com but you won't like it - Another Blow to Private Sexwork Street hooker Defeat Coming in San Francisco at http://www.sexwork.com/coalition/SFvoters.html

Regarding Libertarians - I am meeting again with the Phoenix Libertarians in 2 weeks. We agree on decriminalizing of PRIVATE, consenting adult sexwork. I disagree with them on many of their other issues.

On New Zealand I have the favorable Government report at http:// www.sexwork.com/coalition/NewZealandReport.html

But also: New Zealand Decriminalization Went TOO far! Neighborhoods are in uproar over street prostitution and brothels in residential areas

Most of the world has a more sensible balance. Outcall totally legal almost everywhere except the U.S., brothels have to be in proper zoning not in residential areas in most countries, and legal status varies from only one gal per flat in the U.K., to huge public brothels in Australia and New Zealand.


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