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February 23, 2016

CUSP Supports Alaska Senate Bill 21 For Sex Worker Rights

Alaska Senate Bill 21 introduced by Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner D-Anchorage last year was updated on February 5, 2016 with language the sex trade of Alaska now supports. The new language would allow people in Alaska’s sex trades who are the victims of or witnesses to crimes like murder, sex trafficking, or assault, to make reports to the police without being charged with prostitution. SB 21 is an important step towards enfranchising members of the sex worker community into Alaska’s promise of equal protection under the law for everybody and improving public safety by addressing violent criminals who start out by preying on the sex worker population. The Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) urges everyone to lend their support to SB 21. The Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) is a group of current and former sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and allies working towards safety and protection for all people in Alaska’s sex trades. “Protection from prosecution for prostitution is an important element to the ongoing safety and rights of victims of crimes,” said the sister of an Alaskan sex worker. “This is an important bill that enhances the rights of victims to have honest and forthright relationships with law enforcement. It allows all citizens, no matter their access, to employment opportunities and protection from violent offenders, without fear of repercussion.” Currently when sex workers are the victims of violent crimes, they do their best to warn each other of the perpetrator. In a recent example in Fairbanks, a woman posted a Backpage ad warning fellow escorts of a man with a gun who had robbed her.  It is not consistent with Alaskan values to allow criminals to target our most vulnerable community members with impunity. CUSP is asking members of the Alaska Senate Judiciary to add a few crimes to the list that people in the sex trade could report without being prosecuted for prostitution: extortion, robbery, coercion, sexual assault of a minor, and child pornography. “Extortion is, in our experience, the most common felony committed against us,” said Terra Burns. “Crimes like sexual assault of a minor and child pornography, while not a part of our industry, are sometimes learned of by sex workers and it is important that we be able to report them to the police without facing charges ourselves.” SB 21 has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee chaired by Sen. Lesil McGuire R-Anchorage. Learn more about this subject at sextraffickingalaska.com and click on "Listen to Us" to hear some of our stories.

 
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