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October 27, 2015

Hearing Exposes Problems In Sex Trafficking, Prostitution Laws

SAN FRANCISCO—The California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety held a public informational hearing on Tuesday, October 20, on “Human Trafficking: Identifying the Scope of the Problem and Potential Solutions.” Erotic Service Providers’ attended to tell legislators about their failed policies while nonprofits mainly asked the committee for more money. At issue were the definitions as well as the actual numbers of victims and the actual numbers of those convicted for human trafficking, also known as sex trafficking—and also known as people involved in prostitution either consensually or by force. California State Assemblymember Bill Quirk, who presides over the committee as chair stated, “ I’m a numbers guy” and “there are 90 people in jail,” while the State Attorney General's office used their 2012 report which stated there were 1,798 perpetrators and 1,277 victims. It became clear in the proceedings that the sources for the state attorney’s numbers were regional task forces that were also involved in similar programs run by the federal government, so it appeared that the numbers overlapped. Testimony supporting the call for clarity also came from researcher Alix Lutnick, who stated, “There are no numbers to capture the scope of this in large part because of illegal behaviors,” and that “in the mayor’s report that came out of San Francisco, they were very clear that the numbers around sex trafficking are higher than that of labor trafficking because members of the task force weren’t focusing on other types of labor exploitation.” She went on to say that often agencies didn’t work together, there were duplications in services and that youth in the sex industry reported more violence from police. Her research was included in the packet presented to state legislators. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking asked for the state for another $10 million.  The public comments section of the hearing featured an erotic service provider who stated that she is a “survivor leader” and that “the laws emboldened the criminal who violated me, then it weakened the prosecution of that violent crime.” She went on to say that, “I faced discrimination from the nonprofit's counselors and Victims Compensation Fund. What we need is a meaningful grievance process and expedient accountability process for nonprofits providing services.” She pointed out that according to the FBI, “10,000 people were arrested for prostitution in 2013 in California and in the same year there were 9,714 documented rapes with only 16.5 percent resulting in arrests. The system is failing to keep the public safe but it is in fact hurting people.”  "The criminalization of prostitution is big money in our state,” stated Maxine Doogan as she listed off how police have sexual contact with women they are arresting for prostitution under the guise of rescuing children. Doogan asked for anti-discrimination legislation, legislation to make it illegal for police to have sexual contact with those they were investigating and/or arresting for prostitution and/or as sex trafficking victims. She also asked the state to hold accountable all government and nonprofits who are providing ‘services’ to the erotic service provider community and sex trafficked victims. These were included as part of their providers' larger legislative agenda which was provided to the legislators. For more information, please email info@esplerp.org and visit esplerp.org.

 
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