Thursday July 8, 2010
Contact: Rachel West (US PROS) 415-640-4250
Sex workers groups and others oppose protest of Craigslist
US PROStitutes Collective (US PROS) and others will be holding a counter protest at Craigslist today at 12 noon. We strongly oppose the false claims about trafficking and pimps made by fundamentalist feminists and others in order to attack sex workers. Behind their rhetoric is a moralistic crusade to prevent sex workers from advertising. This attack is part of a wider crackdown criminalizing sex workers, which particularly targets immigrant women, Black women and other women of colour.
“Stopping sex workers from advertising in Craigslist will prevent women from being able to work more safely from premises”, says Rachel West of US PROS. “It is ten times safer to work indoors than on the street. When sex workers are forced out of premises, many end up working on the street and are more vulnerable to rape, violence and arrest as a result. Difficulties in advertising affect the level of business, and can result in women having to work longer hours and take more risks, again compromising safety”.
“To single out and exclude sex workers from advertising in this way is discriminatory”, says Lori Nairne of Legal Action for Women. “Advertising the services of sex workers does not endorse, promote or facilitate prostitution any more than any other service. Which other businesses will be subject to this moralism next? Lesbian and gay businesses? Businesses related to a particular religion?”
A similarly deceitful crusade using the pretext of trafficking resulted in further criminalization of massage parlours targeting immigrant women for arrest and deportation.
Over 70% of sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers working to support themselves and their families. When asked, sex workers have said that the high costs of housing and childcare expenses are what keep them working in prostitution. Poverty, debt, homelessness and domestic violence are also primary reasons. Vulnerable women who are doing their best to survive, especially at this time of an economic recession, should not be targeted in this punitive and discriminatory way.
What is wrong with selling or buying sex if both parties consent? 42% of San Franciscans voted for Proposition K, which would have decriminalized sex work, despite a campaign of fear mongering and misinformation, like the one against Craigslist. New Zealand successfully decriminalized prostitution six years ago to “promote occupational health and safety” and “protect from exploitation.” There has been no increase in prostitution, pimps, or traffickers, and women are more able to report violence and insist on their rights. It is time politicians in the US put safety first and decriminalized prostitution.