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Hannah Albarazi October 25, San Francisco sex workers and allies rally for their rights in Jan. Photo by Hannah Albarazi. This department works to ensure that women and girls in the community have equal economic, social, political and educational opportunities, and helps to resolve issues that impact marginalized women and girls the most. Their fears are not unwarranted.
In the century since San Francisco criminalized prostitution, sex workers have consistently described the abuse carried out against them by men, including law enforcement officers. Inas sex workers engaged in ongoing negotiations with the San Francisco Police Department SFPD and the District Attorney surrounding the amnesty policy, law enforcement agencies across the San Francisco Bay Area — including the San Francisco Police Department — found themselves deeply embroiled in a police sex scandal of seismic proportions. At least two dozen Bay Area police officers allegedly had sex with an underage sex worker who went by the name of Celeste Guap.
Investigations revealed that he was among the many officers who, instead of helping her, abused their positions of authority and used her for their own sexual pleasure. Some Bay Area officers have had criminal charges filed against them and others have been fired. As a result, an untold of investigations never get off the ground, victims and witnesses never get interviewed by detectives and violent predators fail to be held able for their actions.
West has championed decriminalization of sex work for decades and was among those who met with city officials to negotiate the amnesty policy. Around that time, discussions with the San Francisco Police Department about crafting a possible amnesty policy quickly deteriorated. From tothe San Francisco Department on the Status of Women formally mediated intensive discussions between the SFPD, sex workers and other community stakeholders. Momentum built quickly from there. Within weeks of San Francisco adopting its new policy, California Assemblymember Laura Friedman D-Glendale was inspired to introduce a piece of legislation expanding protections for sex workers reporting crimes statewide.
She spoke with advocates and district attorneys who confirmed the impact it was having on public safety. Four months after Friedman crafted her bill, the California legislature passed it unanimously and Governor Jerry Brown ed it into lawin June. Under the new law, which goes into effect in Jan. Friedman says this law will empower a vulnerable population to report crimes, which by extension, will improve safety in communities statewide.
Although sex workers who report violent crimes can no longer be prosecuted for prostitution under state law, they can still be arrested and held in jail. Leigh says such arrests are disruptive, often derail lives and can lead to mothers losing custody of their children.
FOSTA-SESTA, aimed at combating sex trafficking, gives the federal government the right to prosecute websites that facilitate the sale of sex, regardless of whether it is consensual or not. It conflates non-consensual, non-voluntary sex trafficking with consensual, voluntary sex work. As a result, sex workers across the United States are being driven further underground and offline, losing the protections that came from finding clients online, running background checks on them and then meeting them indoors, as opposed to on the street.
As more sex workers are now resorting to streetwalking and the dangers that come with it, local and state laws that encourage them to report violent crimes may become even more important. Abello will send original reporting that helps you keep up with the latest solutions for leveling the playing field in cities. The Bottom Line covers financial topics including cooperatives, CDFIs, procurement, workforce development, economic development, and more.
Subscribe now and never miss a story. Hannah Albarazi is a San Francisco-based journalist who covers public safety, politics, business and law.
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