'YES ON PROP K' Talking
from US PROStitutes
* 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
* 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
* 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.
Visit YESONPROPK.ORG for info and updates