While Senator Barack Obama rejects prostitution and trafficking as an abuse of human rights,  San Francisco voters are being urged to make our city a sanctuary for pimps and traffickers.
What we have to do is to create better, more effective tools for prosecuting those who are engaging in human trafficking and we have to do that within our country. Sadly, there are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement, here in our country - oftentimes young women who are caught up in prostitution. So we've got to give prosecutors the tools to crack down on these human trafficking networks. Internationally, we've got to speak out and we've got to forge alliances with other countries to share intelligence, to roll up the financing networks that are involved in them. It is a debasement of our common humanity, whenever we see something like that taking place.
~ Senator Barack Obama

I exploited my body and gave myself to any man who wanted a piece. It was a vicious lifestyle. What these men don't know -- or maybe what they DO know -- is that prostitutes or streetwalkers or "happy hookers" are women with a deep sense of pain. Most have been abused in unimaginable ways.
~ Brenda Myers-Powell

Proposition K conceals the inhumane nature of prostitution and cripples the efforts of law enforcement, human rights groups and social service agencies to assist those who seek escape from sex-traffickers.
~ Kamala Harris, SF District Attorney

..there is nothing broad-minded about looking the other way when 14-year-old girls and boys sell themselves on the street and massage parlors are staffed by women who are being held against their will. These are not consenting adults.
~ Debra Saunders
SF Chronicle Editorial - Don't decriminalize prostitution in S.F. PDF Print E-mail
Friday, September 5, 2008

The proponents of Proposition K, a measure to decriminalize prostitution and prohibit some sex-traffic investigations, realize that the measure won't do anything to prevent the often-desperate circumstances that lead people into sex work. They admit that the measure is merely a beginning, that may "point towards decriminalizing other parts of this industry," as Carol Leigh, director of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network, told The Chronicle's editorial board. 

They even admit that, if you live in a neighborhood like, say, Capp Street in the Inner Mission, where the prostitution trade is pervasive and the many things that accompany it - violence, drugs, sirens - run rampant, things might get worse if this measure passes.
But hey, that's a small price to pay for progressive policy, isn't it?
Sex work is a dangerous profession, and many of those who work in the trade are suffering in other ways - whether it's because they have been the victims of the international trade in human trafficking that is an enormous problem in San Francisco, or because they are addicted to drugs, or because they are former foster children without parents or homes. We don't believe that people who engage in sex work should be ignored when they suffer violence or assault, and we would appreciate it if the Police Department used prostitution arrests as a way to guide those in trouble toward programs that could help them.

But Prop. K is not the way to achieve this.

When they came to speak to us, Prop. K's proponents didn't seem interested in how it will work on a practical - as opposed to philosophical - basis. Perhaps that's because, in reality, the measure won't work. 

Prohibiting the Police Department from conducting sex-traffic investigations that involve a racial profiling component (certain countries in Asia and Eastern Europe are disproportionately involved in the trade) will, shock, allow sex trafficking to flourish. Decriminalizing prostitution will, shock, lead to more open sightings and solicitations of it in the areas of the city that already see enough of it. 

And while the proponents cite the example of New Zealand to claim that there won't be a "magnet" effect - e.g., more prostitutes traveling into the city - San Francisco is not New Zealand, and the BART train is not the Pacific Ocean. In the tightly knit and densely populated Bay Area, why wouldn't this measure draw more prostitution to the city? 

If this is just the beginning of where this measure will lead, then we really don't want to see the end.

Four years ago, the citizens of Berkeley faced a decriminalization measure on their ballot. Berkeley is a city that believes in taking progressive risks, not conservative thinking. And yet the people of Berkeley were sensible enough to think through all of the rotten implications of this idea four years ago, and overwhelmingly reject the measure. The citizens of San Francisco should do the same.

Vote no on Prop. K.