California Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 357, is an example of legislation proposed with no consideration of its unintended consequences

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While it considers one group of victims, its shortsightedness overlooks another group of victims, also in need of protection.

The name given the bill itself is a grossly inaccurate description of the long-term effects of the legislation. While it is well-meaning, it overlooks the reality of the world we live in, a world where sex trafficking continues to be a plague on all societies. While I agree that concerns for police harassment of women/men in prostitution on public streets is a merited discussion, the implications of this bill and the permanent harm incurred among victims of human trafficking is far more devastating to both the victims and their families.

The bill will help “end discrimination against and violence toward sex workers, especially the most targeted communities — trans, Black, and Brown people,” The Senator offers support from some progressive groups and anecdotal evidence but offers absolutely no proof this will do as promised. We ask you to consider the long-term ramifications of removing the ability for law enforcement to control sex sales in public spaces. The legislation is a political effort to make its sponsor and the groups that support him feel they’ve protected those who need protection. But while this is done to benefit one group, it simultaneously diminishes the safeguards for another.

This act is a step down a slippery slope that we suspect will lead to further legislation to eliminate prosecution of women/men in prostitution. There are claims that this type of legislation removes trafficked victims’ fears of speaking to law enforcement. No prosecution for loitering means the police will not be feared. Instead, the police become someone to turn to for help in escaping from a pimp, or so the argument goes. This explanation is clearly a pipe dream, a complete misinterpretation of the nature of the crime and the people involved.

The Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition has fought for years to protect victims of all types of trafficking no matter who they might be. We can honestly say, check our record, see what we have done, see what we are doing. Our executive director, our board president, our entire board, oppose this legislation because it is based on only a partial picture of what is happening in our society.  Wiener says most of those harassed by the police are minorities. But the sad truth is minorities are often the primary source for slave labor, the root cause for this lies in the inequities in our society, not in police misconduct.

While Wiener and the supporters for this legislation speak loudly about how unfair the police are and how women/ men /in prostitution they represent are treated poorly, we ask who is speaking out for the victims of trafficking? Where is the legislation to increase funding for better educating the police about the treatment of sex workers and for more resources to pursue the real criminals?

We ask your help in stopping this legislation. History has shown that legislative efforts like banning abortion on moral grounds and prohibition of liquor can lead to unintended consequences. This legislation represents a law the People of California will come to regret.

 A study that is documented regarding sex workers and where the truth lies:
http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/pdf/Prostitutionin9Countries.pdf

Please consider our plea-
Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition
Marisa Ugarte, Executive Director,
Anne Hoiberg, President
The Board of the BSCC