Let’s Get Our Priorities Straight Print
Why You Should Vote No on SF’s Proposition K

Prop K was put on your November 2008 SF ballot by groups
that claim to be in favor of protecting “sex workers”

Masquerading as a progressive initiative Prop K this legislation will harm women, children, and the San Francisco community as a whole. The measure directs San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s office to refuse to enforce the State of California’s prostitution laws.  These sections include the laws used to investigate and prosecute traffickers and those involved in exploiting children. Non-enforcement of these laws would put all of us at risk, and send an invitation out to pimps, traffickers, and johns.

This dangerous legislation is a ploy to shift attention away from those who profit from sexually exploiting women, children, men, and transgenders in the sex industry. It is a ploy to take the focus away from pimps and johns. If enacted, the measure will empower pimps and offer no new protection for prostitutes.  In fact, it jeopardizes the very existence of the few exit services and harm reduction programs that are currently available.

What would ending “enforcement of California’s
prostitution laws” really mean?

It would mean turning a blind eye to young people, immigrants, and others who are the most vulnerable to prostitution and trafficking – those who are marginalized because of their poverty or their race or ethnicity.  The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years.

One of the provisions of this misguided proposal would
de-fund services to victims of trafficking. 

This initiative prohibits the City and County of San Francisco from applying for and receiving State and Federal grants to fight Human Trafficking.  The cynical allegation is made that service provision to trafficking victims is “racial profiling.”  In fact many victims of trafficking to San Francisco are from Asia and Latin America.  In order to reach out to these victims, services must be offered in their languages.  Far from racial profiling, it is absolutely necessary to offer culturally relevant services to people who are likely trafficking victims. 

Ending enforcement California’s prostitution laws is to tell people who are exploited in the sex industry and prostitution that their safety is not our priority.

Millions are trafficked into the global sex industry

This flawed petition calls for law enforcement to ignore the extremely dangerous and harmful activities happening in San Francisco.  San Francisco is both source and destination for sex trafficking.  Women, men, transgendered people, and children are trafficked in the U.S. into the sex industry.

In 2005 Operation “Gilded Cage” rescued over 100 Korean women who had been trafficked into Bay Area massage parlors.  Many of the trafficked young women were vulnerable because of limited access to language, systematic abuse by clients and pimps, threats against their families back home, and debts that they were continually tied into by their traffickers.

Victims of trafficking have received support and services from organizations like the Asian Women’s Shelter, Cameron House, La Casa de las Madres, Riley House, Safe House, and SAGE Project - all organizations that the ballot measure seeks to de-fund.

This proposal fails to recognize that prostitution is harmful to those in it

Prostitution can never be a safe industry the way most people think of safety:  a safe place to live, freedom from sexual violence and harassment, and the right not be treated with verbal abuse and contempt.  As a john explained, prostitution is “renting an organ for 10 minutes.”  Decriminalization of johns will make no difference to the physical and the emotional safety of women in prostitution. Regardless of its legal status, prostitution is extremely harmful to those in it. There is little difference for the prostitute between legal and decriminalized prostitution.

Sexual abuse, assault, and rape of people who “work” in the sex industry is normalized in prostitution. Whether it is in a john’s house, car, a hotel, massage parlor, private dance room, strip club, legal brothel, or the street prostitution is incredibly dangerous.  Researchers, service agencies, homeless shelters, and battered women’s shelters all tell us that more than 90% of those in prostitution want to escape it. 

In a 2008 study after l0 years of operation, San Francisco’s SafeHouse
for Women Leaving Prostitution clients’ surveys report:

• 75% had extended periods of homelessness
• 90% had major mental health diagnoses
• 90% suffered severe child abuse and/or incest before age 18
• 90% had long-term drug addiction
• 57% never completed high school
• 75% are mothers with children in the system
• They averaged 19 years in prostitution beginning as young as 12

Prop K cuts funds to help prostituted women change their lives
Don’t abandon them

Vote NO on K