WHAT: Public Speaks Out in Support of Prop K
CONTACT: Rachel West 415.640.4250 or Carol Leigh 415.751.1659
DATE: Saturday, November 1st, 2008
TODAY’S ACTIVITIES: precinct walking; phone banking
Legal Professionals Speak Out On Prop K
Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender
“Since the passage of the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act, I am not aware of any prosecutions for human trafficking under this section. This initiative would not prohibit local law enforcement from enforcing federal law to combat the exploitation of persons who are kidnapped, transported, abused and held captive by sex traffickers.”
Stuart Hanlon, Attorney
“Those opposed to this measure argue that they cannot protect victims of trafficking if Prop K passes. These are scare tactics and false arguments. I was involved in a recent federal case alleging these issues, which ended with guilty pleas to prostitution and money laundering — nothing was forced, and nothing like slavery ever existed. Women came here to make money to support themselves and their families back home.”
Nedra Ruiz, Attorney
“Minors are victimized by the criminalization of sex work. It is inhumane to arrest and saddle them with a criminal record. Criminalization encourages police corruption. A recent UCSF study found that 1 out of 7 sex workers in San Francisco were threatened with arrest by police officers unless they had sex with them, and 1 out of 5 reported that police officers paid them for sex”.
Stephanie Adraktas, Law professor
“The DA gets $1000 fees from a large number of alleged clients, many of whom don’t speak English very well and are frightened. There are serious due process problems with an executive branch official like a District Attorney taking money from an arrest scenario where the person is a target of prosecution and where the person pays to avoid having that matter go to court. We have the proof in the form of a memorandum of understanding that the District Attorney’s office is kicking back some of that money in the form of overtime pay to police officers, which is raising the salary of these officers above their base level to as high as $150,000 plus a year. I think in a fair society the District Attorney and the police department should not have a financial interest in arresting people, including for sex work.
Health Professionals Speak Out on Prop K
Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, AIDS and Infectious Diseases
“Where sex work is criminalized, sex workers are much less likely to disclose their occupation when seeing a doctor. Without knowing the occupational risks of a patient, it is hard for doctors to provide good medical care. With decriminalization, sex workers increase their collective capacity to demand safer working conditions, access legal recourse for employer violations and obtain fair wages. San Franciscans have always been leaders in the recognition of human rights”.
Lori Nairne, RN
“Many nurses support prop k because we deal with the consequence of violence and sexual assault. When criminalization and sex worker stigma keeps people from seeking healthcare, complications from physical and emotional trauma are harder to treat. Nurses are also frustrated by the high cost of healthcare which can lead to bankruptcy and homelessness and the lack of holistic resources available to help mothers and young people who often end up on the street as a consequence of violence within the family”.
Other Prominent Individuals Speak Out on Prop K
Cecelia Chung – Human Rights Commissioner, San Francisco
“JUDGING AND STIGMATIZING SEX WORKERS DOES NOT BUILD RESPECT OR MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR SEX WORKERS TO GET MEDICAL HELP OR REPORT VIOLENT CRIME.”
Rev. Lea Brown, senior minister, Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco
“I BELIEVE WE MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER TO CREATE A WORLD IN WHICH NO ONE IS PENALIZED, PERSECUTED, OR HARASSED FOR THEIR GENDER PRESENTATION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR SEXUAL ACTIVITY WITH CONSENTING ADULTS. PROP K IS ONE STEP CLOSER TO ENSURING THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL SEXUAL MINORITIES ARE PROTECTED AND PROMOTED EVERYWHERE, WHICH IS WHY I WILL BE VOTING YES. AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED, IT’S JUST THE CHRISTIAN THING TO DO.”
Erika McDonald, San Francisco Green Party spokesperson
“When there is no victim, there is no crime. When no harm is done, no harm should be done in the form of jailing, fining and arresting.”
Faithful Fools Ministry
“Prostitution is a way for many people to get resources unavailable to them. It is often a matter of survival. Let us put our efforts into helping create resources for people whose basic needs are not met, rather than block their way with punitive measures of ‘law’ enforcement.”
Sex Workers and their Advocates Speak Out on Prop K
Carol Leigh, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Northern California
“What I needed to do as a sex worker to protect myself from violence was exactly opposite to what I needed to do to protect myself from arrest. Ending criminalization is the only solution to protect women working now. When I worked as a prostitute in the city, I was raped, and I wasn’t able to go to the police. As prostitutes, we do contribute a lot. We also support our families. Why are we sitting ducks out there with no security?”
Nell Myhand, Legal Action for Women and Women of Color Global Women’s Strike
“Prop K is anti-racist. Cuts in welfare, homecare, education, lack of affordable heath-care and pay equity, and low wages are major reasons women and other low income people go into sex work. Criminalization disproportionately impacts women of color, the majority of those harassed and/or arrested for prostitution. Funds now used to arrest, prosecute and force women into diversion programs, should instead be used for resources for youth, sex workers, older people and vulnerable communities. Prop K is winnable and will make a real difference in the lives of the women and their families.”
Lisa, former sex worker
“After spending almost nine months in the SAGE project I left without job training, counseling, no resume building, no computer training. There were no mental health professionals; peer counselors provided the ‘trauma recovery’. The lawyer comes once every two weeks and although I waited a long time she couldn’t help me except to refer me to a lawyer who charges $200 an hour”.
Patricia West, sex worker
“Prop K will allow us to organize into collectives and negotiate for safer working conditions and better wages.”
Rachel West, spokeswoman for US prostitutes Collective
“The DA claims that Prop K will make it impossible to catch traffickers. Yet removing the fear of arrest, and for immigrant sex workers fear of deportation, will make it easier for women to report coercion, rape and other violence, and insist that the police and DA act on these reports. Trafficking legislation is primarily used to arrest and deport immigrant sex workers, most of whom are women of color, not to protect them”.
“Chris”, former sex worker
“Prop K has drawn on a proud tradition of sex workers refusing to be divided from other women and from other workers, and speaking out with a united voice. Sex workers have come together with a broad cross section of Bay Area residents who are supporting Prop K, including mothers, grandmothers, students, doctors, nurses, lawyers, church leaders, les/bi/gay/trans communities, neighborhood residents and activists, younger and older people, elected officials, the SF Democratic Party, the SF Bay Guardian and many others.”
Leila, sex worker
“If Proposition K passes sex workers won’t be such easy targets anymore because we’ll be able to go to the police if we are harmed by a customer. We absolutely want to see human traffickers prosecuted. This law actually calls for increased prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers. Whatever their doing right now by arresting a lot of sex workers to find the big fish it isn’t working. San Francisco hasn’t made one trafficking prosecution in the last two years” (CNN Oct 26)
Maxine Doogan, sex worker and an author of Prop K
“The city spends millions of dollars each year on the revolving door of arrests and operating a shame-based program. Meanwhile there is a record homicide rate. This legislation is about sensible law enforcement, budgeting priorities, and redirecting resources for sex workers and our families. By focusing on equal protection, the whole community’s standards will be improved.”
Margaret Prescod, Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders
Prop K would stop the horrors sex workers face as a result of criminalization, particularly those who work on the street, the majority of whom are women of color and transgender: violence from serial murderers and rapists, and police illegality.
Catherine Healy, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective
We proved that decriminalization works. Five years ago, we won decriminalization and a recent government review found: no rise in the numbers of women working; violent attacks cleared up more quickly; women find it easier to leave prostitution as convictions are cleared from their records; women more able to work independently and discretely from premises and get off the street.
Prepared by US prostitutes Collective in support of Yes on K.