Work, Rights and Safety: Historic Town Hall Meeting Speak Out and
Panel on Prop K, Thursday, October 30, 7pm -9pm
Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco
Info: 415-626-4114, firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last
century, year after year, sex workers in SF have been hounded, arrested
and jailed, evicted, raped and even murdered, their children taken
away. Those of us who have least - often women of color - have received
the brunt of this persecution. Why has our city famed for being open
minded allowed this injustice to continue? Now we can make a change
and win greater protection, well-being and safety for all. Join a
cross section of communities who want to make this happen!
Speakers include: sex workers and sex worker organizations, criminal
attorneys Nedra Ruiz, Stephanie Adraktas, Stuart Hanlon and David
Bigeleisen (Conference of Delegates of California Bar Association)
Health professionals including Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, Tanya Smitz,
and Avaren Ipsen, UC Berkely Lecturer, author "Sex Working and
also include representatives from SF Green Party, neighborhood residents,
church representatives, candidates for board of supervisor and other
politicians, the LGBT community, labor representatives, and others.
YES ON PROP
K: GET THE FACTS
US PROStitutes Collective
• Prop K can win because the majority of the public of SF wants
the criminalization of sex workers to end.
• The $11.4 million dollars of taxpayer‚s money now spent
rounding up sex workers should instead be used for resources and services
to assist women, young people and our local communities.
• Who profits from the criminalization of sex workers? The police,
DA and the diversion program with the misleading name of Standing
Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) as well as so-called anti-trafficking
feminists; all these are leading voices against Prop K.
• How do they make money from criminalizing sex workers?
-The police, in particular those working the lucrative vice squad,
make money on hundreds of hours of overtime paid for by you the tax
payer, as they hound and exploit sex workers who work the streets.
Additionally, the vice squad track women down on Craig‚s list,
rent hotel rooms, watch women undress, often demand free sex and then
arrest the sex worker.
-Fees are collected from those arrested who are diverted to the First
Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), which is run by SAGE.
-Money from these fees is then divided up between the three primary
partners, the police, the DA and SAGE who benefit from the continued
-Men arrested for prostitution-related offenses can be charged $1000
to attend FOPP.
-Public defenders report that people are sent to FOPP by the courts
in preference to other diversion programs that are free and reportedly
-The Bush administration while cutting social programs to benefit
low income women and men, have poured millions of dollars into funding
anti-trafficking projects that are a remarkable failure at catching
actual traffickers. The Public Defender reports that he is not aware
of any prosecutions for trafficking under the 2006 California anti-trafficking
law. Anti-trafficking feminists are going after this lucrative area
of funding and so aligning themselves with the Bush administration
-Under the guise of going after traffickers, immigrant sex workers,
the majority of whom are women of color, are arrested and deported;
this is similar to the ICE raids by Homeland Security which have targeted
immigrant communities for arrest and deportation in the Bay Area and
across the country.
-More than 70% of San Francisco residents oppose their tax payer dollars
being used in this way, and would prefer their money to be used instead
for services to benefit youth, at risk women and communities.
• Prop K aims to increase women‚s safety and make it easier
for sex workers to report violence without fear of arrest. Criminalization
has made sex workers easy prey to serial murderers, to rapists and
other criminals who know sex workers are less likely to report violence
and other abuse and less likely to get police protection.
• Studies show that decriminalization greatly improves public
health by making it easier for sex workers to provide more complete
information to health care providers.
• Prop K makes it easier for sex workers to carry condoms and
insist on clients using them. At the moment possession of condoms
is used by the police as evidence to arrest.
• Will Prop K take away much needed services to sex workers?
Absolutely not. The ballot pamphlet says that we want the reallocation
of the millions of dollars spent on criminalization to instead go
towards „providing services and alternatives for those involved
in prostitution‰. That is what Prop K campaigners have been
saying to the press and to the public. We want taxpayer‚s money
now spent on criminalizing sex workers to benefit not only sex workers
and their families, but also low-income communities.
• Prop K supports all voluntary programs for sex workers that
are independent of and not controlled by the criminal justice system.
We oppose mandatory „rehabilitation‰ schemes under threat
of jail, such as the SAGE program, which are moneymakers for those
who benefit from sex workers being criminalized.
• The DA claims that the first report of trafficking is usually
a report of prostitution so if they can‚t investigate prostitution
they won‚t be able to catch traffickers. In fact, for the first
time the police and DA will be compelled to act on rather than ignore
sex workers‚ reports of violence, intimidation, coercion and
more. Removing the fear of arrest and for immigrant sex workers, fear
of deportation, will enable all sex workers to report coercion, rape,
and other attacks.
• Poverty, low wages, unequal pay drives many women into prostitution.
Many sex workers are mothers supporting families in increasingly hard
• Will prostitutes and pimps flood into San Francisco destroying
neighborhoods as the Mayor and DA claim? After five years of decriminalization
in New Zealand a government review found no increase in the numbers
of women working. Women say that decriminalization makes it easier
to work independently and discretely from premises and they have been
able to get off the street.
• San Francisco can show the way nationally and internationally
by ensuring that sex workers have protection from violence and exploitation,
and the same basic human rights as other workers, and communities
can have access to resources for services not criminalization. Why
use precious taxpayer dollars to criminalize sex between consenting
• Prop K calls on the police to vigorously enforce laws against
rape coercion, extortion, battery, and other violent crimes, including
trafficking. Prostitution is consenting sex, trafficking by definition
involves fraud, force or coercion.
• Prop K supports prosecution of traffickers. Right now, instead
of going after traffickers and protecting women, many immigrant sex
workers, most of whom are women of color, are being targeted for arrest
and deportation. The Public Defender says not one trafficker has been
prosecuted in SF under the California law.
• Cases of actual slavery and trafficking of farm workers, domestic
workers and other low-income vulnerable workers are not being prioritized.
And neither is the search for and prosecution of rapists and serial
murderers. The time police spend arresting sex workers ˆ an easy
prey ˆ can instead be spent investigating and arresting violent
• Furthermore the fact that sex workers are criminalized makes
crimes against them a low priority for law enforcement, creating an
atmosphere of it being OK to „hunt down hookers‰. Women
are the first losers as our safety is being neglected and the entire
community suffers. Prop K aims to reverse this.
• Prop K is an anti-racist measure; women of color are disproportionately
arrested and jailed under the prostitution laws. Black and Brown women
often have fewer resources, are more likely to work the streets and
therefore are more vulnerable to violence.
• Prop K ends criminalization, which means no criminal record
for being a sex worker. This makes it easier for those who want to
get out of prostitution to do so and find another job.
• Decriminalization works! Those who oppose Prop K leave out
the fact that in other countries where sex work has been decriminalized,
for example in New Zealand, there has been no increase in prostitution,
and sex workers report that they feel safer, more able to insist on
their rights, and to report violence to the police.
• 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.
• Historical context of Prop K: comes at a transformational
time, when people everywhere are demanding change away from poverty,
war, violence and repression, and towards rights and safety for all,
regardless of our occupation. Prop K grew out of a long history of
sex workers organizing. In 1917 hundreds of prostitute women from
a well known red-light area called Barbary Coast, took over a church
to protest the shut down of their workplaces. They were referred to
by the press as “Magdalenes”. Their action spurred public
debates that shook SF.
• In response to a growing prostitutes‚ rights movement
that was part of the grassroots women‚s rights movement in the
70‚s and 80‚s, and included Margo St James and Coyote,
US PROStitutes Collective, Carol Leigh and others, the Board of Supervisors
in San Francisco set up the Task Force on Prostitution. In 1996, the
Task Force called on the City to prioritize violence against sex workers
and to decriminalize prostitution, and in 2000 the Board of Supervisors‚
„Mitigating Violence against Prostitutes‰, called for
implementation of the Task Force recommendations. More recently, groups
like Sex Workers Outreach Project and Exotic Service Providers Union
have joined the fight for sex workers‚ rights. Prop K has drawn
on this history of sex workers refusing to be divided from other women
and from other workers, and give it a united voice.
• Useful Statistics:
- San Francisco the estimated median household income in 2007 was
- Median gross rent in 2007 was $1,192.
- 10.5% of residents of SF were living in poverty in 2007: 7.7% for
White Non-Hispanic residents; 27.4% for Black residents; 13.2% for
Hispanic or Latino residents
- Cost of one year of college at UC Berkeley $14,303. Coat of one
year of prison $22,736
* The Unitarian Universalist Church has kindly lent their premises
only, they do not in any way take a position on Prop K and use of
their premises should not be interpreted as support for Prop K. The
media is requested not to include shots of the Church in their coverage
of the press conference. Thank you.