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December 16, 2015

Sex Workers Call on Judge to Rule on Decriminalizing Prostitution

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW) started in 2003 when serial killer Gary Ridgway admitted killing over 70 women in Washington State in the '80s and '90s. When his rampage ended, he said he had picked prostitutes as victims because they were “the easiest targets” and that “no one would miss them.” Well, he was wrong about that. Many of the victims' families and friends did and do grieve—and the sex worker community’s grief is now memorialized every December 17: The International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers is an annual global event to highlight the violence faced every day by sex workers. San Francisco Bay Area sex worker groups are coming together on December 17 to call for the remembrance of sex worker victims at a press conference and rally to be held in front of the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Federal Courthouse in Oakland, located at 1303 Clay Street, beginning at noon. They are specifically calling for Judge Jeffrey White to rule on the Motion To Dismiss filed back in May by the California State Attorney General’s Office in response to the historic lawsuit ESPLERP v. Gascon, which alleges that California’s prostitution statute, Statute 647(b) of the California Penal Code, violates fundamental constitutional privacy rights—and that sex work should be decriminalized. “Current prostitution laws enable violent predators to target our community because they know that our illegal status deters many of us from coming forward and making police reports,” said Maxine Doogan, President of the Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project. “That’s why getting a favorable ruling in our case is imperative as it will save lives! Since the federal judge is under no obligation to make his ruling in any specific time frame, sex workers will continue to vulnerable to violence. We demand decriminalization of our occupation now as a means to begin to respect our human rights and dignity, help guard us against violence and abuse, and improve our access to justice.” Rachel West of US PROStitutes Collective also expressed concern with how the perpetrators are allowed free rein. "Serial murderers of sex workers operate with impunity due to criminalization, and law enforcement does little or nothing to stop the murders. Amnesty International has recently passed a policy calling for the decriminalization of sex work, which spells out the harm caused by criminalization and how it puts sex workers at great risk of violence." The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) is a diverse community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through litigation, education, and research. For more information, email Maxine Doogan or call 415-265-3302.

 
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