California’s Prop 35: A Misguided Ballot Initiative Targeting the Wrong People for the Wrong Reasons


California voters hold the power this Election Day to decide if many thousands of people convicted of prostitution-related offenses in their state must now register as sex offenders. These are their neighbors, their friends, their family—whether they know it or not—and many are women: trans- and cisgender women, poor and working class women, and disproportionately, they are women of color.

This attack on women already made vulnerable to violence and poverty is just one of the possible consequences of Proposition 35, a ballot initiative marketed to voters as a tough law to fight trafficking but is instead a “tough on crime” measure backed with millions of dollars from one influential donor, written by a community activist with little experience in the issue. If it passes? Advocates for survivors of trafficking, civil rights attorneys, and sex workers fear that rather than protect Californians, it will expose their communities to increased police surveillance, arrest, and the possibility of being labeled a “sex offender” for the rest of their lives.

Trafficking is a hot-button issue, where even defining what is meant by the term is contentious and deeply politicized—but at a minimum, it describes forced labor, where the force may be physical or psychological in nature. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that nearly 22 million people may be involved in forced labor worldwide, the majority of which does not involve forced labor in the sex trade. In the United States, anti-trafficking law developed over the last ten years has advanced definitions of trafficking. In addition to Federal law, states have passed their own trafficking laws, which overlap with existing laws against forced labor, child labor, minor prostitution, or prostitution in general.

A good deal of advocacy around trafficking is concerned with proposing new laws, with several organizations—such as the Polaris Project and Shared Hope International—focused on introducing copycat legislation state-after-state, focused on increasing criminal penalties associated with trafficking and moving resources to law enforcement. There is little evidence that strengthening criminal penalties and relying primarily on law enforcement are strategies to end forced labor; in fact, advocates who work with survivors of trafficking, as well as people involved in the sex trade and sex worker rights’ advocates, have documented the limitations and dangers of a “tough on crime” approach on trafficking. Still, the “tough on crime” approach has become dominant in what some anti-trafficking advocates now call “the war on trafficking.”

Treating Those In the Sex Trade as Sex Offenders

Proposition 35 adds to this dangerous mix: the overlapping matrix of laws concerning trafficking, the increasingly common conflation of commercial sex with trafficking found in these laws, and the concerns of rights’ advocates. If passed, Prop 35 will create more severe criminal penalties for what it describes as “sexual exploitation”—a potentially far-reaching term that can include any kind of commercial sex, whether or not force, fraud or coercion was present.

Under Prop 35, anyone involved in the sex trade could potentially be viewed as being involved in trafficking, and could face all of the criminal penalties associated with this redefinition of who is involved in “trafficking,” which include fines of between $500,000 and $1 million and prison sentences ranging from five years to life. This is in addition to having to register as a sex offender, and surrender to lifelong internet monitoring: that is, turning over all of one’s “internet identifiers,” which includes “any electronic mail address, user name, screen name, or similar identifier used for the purpose of Internet forum discussions, Internet chat room discussion, instant messaging, social networking, or similar Internet communication.”

Advocates say Prop 35′s conflation of the sex trade with trafficking will not only endanger people in the sex trade, but it will also fail survivors of trafficking. “I think trafficking is very much premised on issues of forced labor – be it forced work, be it forced sexual services,” said Cindy Liou, a staff attorney at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, which works with hundreds of survivors of human trafficking.

“Even the division between forced labor and sex work feel extraneous,” she explains. “Our forced labor cases may involve sexual assault, or we may have cases where a client isn’t forced to prostitute herself for money, but is forced to commit sexual acts for noncommercial means – [under Prop 35] that would no longer be considered ‘forced work.’ That said, to confuse prostitution with trafficking is not appropriate, they are separate crimes, and they effect people in different ways. That’s the whole point why they are different crimes.”

If passed, Proposition 35 could also require anyone in California convicted of some prostitution-related offenses as far back as 1944 to also register as a sex offender and submit to lifelong internet monitoring. This is what drove Naomi Akers, the Executive Director of St. James Infirmary, an occupational health and safety clinic run by and for sex workers in San Francisco, to come out hard against the bill. In a Facebook image that spread quickly through sex worker communities online, Akers wrote “I have a previous conviction for 647a” – that is, lewd conduct, one of several common charges brought by California law enforcement against sex workers – “when I was a prostitute on the streets and if Prop 35 passes, I will be be required to register as a sex offender.”

Through Prop 35, “it is possible that people convicted of prostitution-related offenses could be placed on the sex offender registry,” said Juhu Thukral, director of law and advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda and founder and former director of the Sex Workers’ Project.  “It is also possible that placement on the registry will be retroactive for some of these offenses.”

Historically and to this day, these charges have been used disproportionately against women in sex work (cisgender and transgender), transgender women whether or not they are sex workers, and women of color, as well as gay men and gender nonconforming people. This is a misguided and dangerous overreach in a bill ostensibly aimed at protecting many of these same people.

Thukral emphasized, “The changes to the existing law [proposed by Prop 35] are complex and not clearly well-written, so this will cause confusion. That confusion as to what properly belongs on the sex offender registry will create damage to people that will likely never be undone.”

Who’s Behind Prop 35?

The problems with Prop 35 extend beyond the language of bill. It appears on California ballots through the aggressive fundraising efforts of its lead advocate, Daphne Phung, executive director of the new non-profit Californians Against Slavery. According to Phung’s bio on the CAS website, her first exposure to the issue of trafficking came from “watching MSNBC Dateline Sex Slaves in America.” After this, though Phung had no previous experience working on the issue of trafficking and no legal expertise, she attempted to introduce a trafficking bill of her own to the California state legislature, who rejected it. Phung then retooled her bill as a ballot proposition, by which a law may be proposed directly to voters if the proposers can gather enough signatures.

This is also when Phung partnered with donor Chris Kelly, the former Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook and one-time California Attorney General candidate, who lost in the 2010 primary to current California Attorney General Kamala Harris. After a high-profile sting in which New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo claimed that Facebook did not intervene in sexually-explicit messages sent to law enforcement decoys posing as minors, Kelly took credit for Facebook’s policy shifts in the wake of these stings and ensuing public outrage, and became an advocate for tracking internet identities in sex offender registries. Kelly is now Prop 35′s lead funder, having contributed over $2.3 million primarily to pay signature collectors to get the proposition on the ballot, and through Prop 35, he is proposing the same measures to monitor sex offenders’ usage of the internet he championed—or was led to champion—at Facebook.

These measures are incredibly alarming to survivors’ advocates. “The sex offender provisions have no place in a trafficking bill,” said Liou, the attorney who works directly with trafficking survivors. “Some of the worst trafficking cases I’ve seen are not sexual and don’t include sexual offenders. It really pits our clients against one another.”

John Vanek, a retired lieutenant from the San Jose Police Department’s human trafficking task force, came into contact with Phung early in the bill’s genesis. He is now working to stop Prop 35. Vanek explained that in the beginning, “the very first draft of what is now called the CASE Act was about two-and-a-half pages long. It was just about raising sentencing standards. [Phung] believes that raising sentencing will have an impact on human trafficking.”

“I would ask,” saids Vanek, “how has higher sentencing worked for our war on drugs on California? It may cut down on recidivism when that person is in custody, but it doesn’t prevent crime. That thinking is flawed. Her thinking is flawed.”

Phung later asked Vanek to support her fundraising efforts for what became Prop 35, despite his objections to her bill. According to Vanek, Phung had “met someone who cannot fund [the] initiative, but [was] willing to host a private gathering in their home, where they would bring in the people who have the money to back this up.”

“She asked me,” said Vanek, “if I would talk about human trafficking for her at those events. I declined—I said I think it would be a conflict of interest. She said, no, you don’t have to ask for the money. I’ll ask for it. But I said no, I was still working with the police department at that time, and I also said, I think this is a flawed way to go about the business here.”

Shortly after this meeting, Chris Kelly came aboard as a funder, and this October, Prop 35 was accepted onto the California ballot.

When “Tough On Crime” Becomes “Tough on Survivors”

In addition to being troubled by the bill itself, Vanek expressed frustration with the number of law enforcement backers of Prop 35, including the San Jose Police Association. “They approved it, but they didn’t take the time to call me up and see what I think about it.” In 2006, Vanek said he helped to found the San Jose Police Department’s anti-trafficking task force, a Federally-funded task force and one of the first in the nation. Since, he’s worked as a trainer for law enforcement on human trafficking. But when it came to this bill, he said, “the culture of law enforcement is they will sign on to anything that seems tough on crime.”

It’s the tough-on-crime approach to trafficking, and the almost singular reliance of Prop 35 on law enforcement to identify and protect trafficking survivors that drives the opposition of victims’ advocates like Liou, who work directly with people who have been trafficked. “This entire bill presumes that if we increase fines and penalties, it will solve the problem.” But, said Liou, “there’s other issues at play – maybe victims feel they can’t come forward, and that there’s no system to support them.”

Based on her experience working with survivors of trafficking in New York state and evaluating and advocating for sound, human-rights-based trafficking policy, said Juhu Thukral, “the criminal justice system cannot be the place that helps people move on from traumatic experiences. It can be a place, if used properly, to seek some level of justice, but it’s not where people are going to be getting long-term support and respect for their human rights that they need.”

Respecting the needs of survivors while navigating relationships with law enforcement already presents challenges for advocates, said Liou.

“With my social service providers, we have an agreement that when law enforcement calls us to accompany them on a raid, we won’t do it. I don’t want to be associated with law enforcement. I like to collaborate with our law enforcement partners, but I make it clear at the end of the day is that we work with our clients, with survivors.”

Prop 35 further risks the relationship between survivors and those working to support them, in part because it privileges law enforcement responses over community-based responses. Advocates for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have had to navigate a parallel power dynamic with the police, and it’s one that Liou sees explicitly in her work with trafficking survivors. “Our agency does a lot of DV work,” said Liou, “and to us, [trafficking] is very analogous to this situation. It’s an empowerment model – we work with the victim or the client to say, if you are ready to leave, we’re here to help. But now with trafficking, we’re being told we don’t think about that, it’s about swooping in to conduct a rescue mission?”

The over-reliance on police to “rescue” people who are trafficked, as well as to monitor people convicted of trafficking based on Prop 35′s over-broad definition of trafficking, has worried civil rights advocates in California, as well, with several major state groups urging voters to reject Prop 35.

Claudia Pena, the Statewide Coordinator of the California Civil Rights Commission (CCRC), a membership-based organization of 110 civil rights organizations across the state, explained that the issue of increasing criminal penalties is central to why CCRC voted to endorse a No vote on Prop 35.

“In general, we aren’t in favor of things that increase criminal penalties, because we see people of color incarcerated disproportionately. Increasingly criminal penalties will impact people of color and poor people hardest.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California have also endorsed a No vote on Prop 35, in part because “the measure requires that registrants provide online screen names and information about their Internet service providers to law enforcement – even if their convictions are very old and have nothing to do with the Internet or children.”

What’s also telling is who has declined to support Prop 35. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has supported anti-trafficking measures in the past, and whose office is due to release a comprehensive report on human trafficking California in mid-November, has taken no official position on Prop 35. Not many reproductive rights and reproductive justice organizations have taken a stand for or against Prop 35, though in the last week, Black Women for Wellness published a No endorsement, concerned that under the bill, “young people in the sex trade who are homeless and using strategies to be safer; such as sharing space, food, and resources” could be criminalized by Prop 35, as well as “people of color,queer, immigrant, and low-income communities that are already unfairly targeted by the criminal justice system.”

Trafficking survivors’ advocates have been coming out against the bill as well, though not without challenges. For one, many of the organizations that advocates may have to rely on to help their clients may support Prop 35, which advocates who oppose the bill fear may compromise their working relationships and in turn, their clients. The SAGE Project, a San Francisco based non-profit who works with survivors of trafficking and who has historically taken a stance against prostitution, initially supported Prop 35, but rescinded their support just two weeks before the election. Liou of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach has been very public about opposing Prop 35, and said of the climate around speaking out against it, “it’s very ‘with us and against us.’ The names I have been called —’oh, you just want to support prostitution, you support pedophiles.’ That’s the sad part of this, the vast majority of my cases are labor cases—and if you consider sex work a form of work, it’s just one industry. This distinction between sex and labor trafficking is ridiculous.”

If people did want to support trafficking survivors, there are existing laws that could make a much bigger impact than Prop 35, advocates said. In California, said Liou, “the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights—that would have been really helpful. A lot of our trafficking cases are domestic worker cases.” The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights did pass the California legislature, but was vetoed this October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

New York, the first state where a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was passed through the organizing efforts of domestic workers themselves, provides other models for laws that could support trafficking survivors. Said Thukral, “New York state was a leader on vacating convictions” – that is, removing prostitution-related convictions from the records of trafficking survivors. Along with the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, said Thukral, “these are good anti-trafficking laws.”

But by the accounts of these advocates, attorneys, and members of law enforcement, Prop 35 is not really an anti-trafficking bill—it’s an anti-sex work bill, and one with far-reaching consequences for how similar anti-sex work bills, in the guise of “fighting trafficking,” may replicate on its model across the United States.

“If this passes, we are going to see this in other states. So often, as California goes, so goes the nation,” warned Thukral. “It’s frightening. There’s a sense of emotional reaction, married to this really strong anti-sex worker rights agenda. And it’s playing on the public’s emotions.”

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  • flying-nosehair

    “Proposition 35, a ballot initiative marketed to voters as a tough law to fight trafficking but is instead a ‘tough on crime’ measure…”

    If it’ll force prostiutes to register as sex offenders, then the way it’s being marketed is misleading. Isn’t there a law against that sort of thing? Why has the Democratic Party endorsed it?

  • chaotic

    Okay, maybe this law isn’t written well enough to back its purpose, but I think I’ll vote Yes anyway.  I’m a woman of color who grew up poor in NYC (I now live in San Francisco).  I make $70,000/year and rising, having never finished college.  Not once in my life have I felt the complete loss of opportunity in this country to resort myself to sex work.  I personally find it wrong and believe that aiding the fruits of violence and poverty only help to perpetuate them.  Truth be told, I believe most sex-workers to be lazy and base creatures who actually enjoy their work. Some so much so that they form unions.

    But that’s just my opinion. 

    If you really want to fight Prop 35, call it out for what it really turns out to be despite all efforts: a moral imposition on the people by its government. That in itself is implicitly wrong, and I normally wouldn’t stand for that if it didn’t support my own moralistic virtues. :(

  • no-on-prop-35
    Shame on the California State Democratic Party, the California State Republican Party, the California Federation of Labor, the California National Organization for Women, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Nurses Association and the NAACP for rubber stamping Prop 35 without bothering to ask to hear the opposition.

    These groups have neglected their responsibility to act democratically on behalf of the victims of trafficking and their own members when they didn’t bother to vet properly this reckless ballot measure.

    Its not lost on the voters that Prop 35’s exact same lock’em up and throw away the key policies are being rolled back in both Prop 34 and 36. Not only have these failed policies robbed the public trust of affordable public education but they are contrary to the democracy these member organizations claim to value.

    Its of no small consequence that Prop 32 is before the voters poised take away some of these group’s right to politically associate as they have voted against their own self interest and violated the public trust in the process over and over again.

    These groups have clearly made a mistake by not soliciting the No On Prop 35 when it endorsed this bait and switch ballot measure. We call on them to take responsibility and admit they didn’t act democratically when they endorsed Prop 35.

    Vote No ON Prop 35
    Maxine Doogan
    10/24/2012
    http://www.noonprop35.info
    @opposeprop35
    noonprop35 [at] gmail.com

  • prochoiceferret

    Not once in my life have I felt the complete loss of opportunity in this country to resort myself to sex work.

     

    Most people would feel grateful to be able to say that.

     

    I personally find it wrong and believe that aiding the fruits of violence and poverty only help to perpetuate them.

     

    So you’re saying sex workers are fruits, now?

     

    Truth be told, I believe most sex-workers to be lazy and base creatures

     

    Coincidentally, a lot of people believe the same way about women of color.

  • chaotic

    okay, so you’re racist. good job.

  • prochoiceferret

    okay, so you’re racist. good job.

     

    Actually, I believe even people of color can support policies that perpetuate racism and poverty, and accuse other people of being racists without citing actual racist statements nor recognizing that racism is more of a “what you said/did” than “what you are” kind of thing.

  • chaotic

    The point I was trying to make to begin with was made. I wouldn’t have even mentioned I was a woman of color had the author not said that prostitution-related offenses are disproportionately done by women of color.  I’m not disagreeing with those facts, I’m responding to them with my own experience. She also made it sound like violence and poverty are what bring people to sex-work.  I simply disagree that that isn’t the case for most sex-workers, and even if it were, we all choose what we do with our time.  I chose to leave my society of violence and poverty to learn new skills and work hard.  That said, I do not support people who choose to spend their time having sex for money.  If Prop 35 will further criminalize women who choose that, then I’m all for it.  Maybe then they will choose to spend their time learning job skills and working hard.

  • prochoiceferret

    The point I was trying to make to begin with was made.

     

    I wouldn’t take that for granted.

     

    I’m not disagreeing with those facts, I’m responding to them with my own experience.

     

    Yes, you’re saying that because you have your own experience, other women of color don’t have theirs.

     

    She also made it sound like violence and poverty are what bring people to sex-work.  I simply disagree that that isn’t the case for most sex-workers,

     

    So you have studied and/or worked with sex workers, I take it? Perhaps you are a former sex worker yourself? And either way have a better idea of how the industry functions and what the people in it are like than the stereotypes promulgated by its many detractors?

     

    and even if it were, we all choose what we do with our time.

     

    Yes, I suppose most of us do “choose” not to live on the street and try to make a living somehow.

     

    I chose to leave my society of violence and poverty to learn new skills and work hard.

     

    Curiously enough, many people in the same kind of “society of violence and poverty” would choose to do the same, but are unable, whether because of violence, poverty, addiction, discrimination, or a society that has failed to help them as much as it has helped others. You were quite fortunate to have been capable of doing what you did.

     

    That said, I do not support people who choose to spend their time having sex for money.

     

    I don’t recall them ever asking for your support. Unless you consider not labeling them sexual offenders to be “supporting” them.

     

    If Prop 35 will further criminalize women who choose that, then I’m all for it.  Maybe then they will choose to spend their time learning job skills and working hard.

     

    Which just goes to show, again, that just because one has been a victim of racism, sexism, and/or classism, doesn’t mean that one will know better than to do the same to some other marginalized group.

  • chaotic

    …who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and doesn’t understand what I’m saying.  I’m NOT saying that because I have my own experience, other women of color don’t have theirs. Your logic is flawed. And every one of your “arguments” is simply twisting my words. 

    Finally, I’m no victim.  Seeing yourself as one is the problem. The energy you are putting into this would be better focused on educating yourself and others to not resort to this kind of work.  It’s weak, pitiful, and sets the progress of women’s equal rights back to the stone age. I don’t like sex-work because we are more than sexual creatures to be ogled at by men. To make money off our bodies is disgraceful. Which brings me back to my first post about the morality of this.  I see the conundrum.  You’re not helping.



  • prochoiceferret

    Clearly, you are a troll…who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and doesn’t understand what I’m saying.

     

    Yes, you certainly are!

     

    I’m NOT saying that because I have my own experience, other women of color don’t have theirs.

     

    Well, you’re sure going to a lot of trouble to say what other women of color’s experiences are like, and then proceeding to support policies that punish them for it.

     

    Your logic is flawed. And every one of your “arguments” is simply twisting my words.

     

    So far, my logic and words are making a lot more sense than a woman of color perpetuating oppression.

     

    Finally, I’m no victim.  Seeing yourself as one is the problem.

     

    Fine, you can call yourself a “survivor” if you like. That doesn’t magically make resources appear for you, nor make an abusive husband turn into a loving partner, nor make a society that discriminates against you see the error of its ways.

     

    The energy you are putting into this would be better focused on educating yourself and others to not resort to this kind of work.

     

    Yes, I suppose, if you could convince yourself and others that being homeless and indigent isn’t all that bad after all.

     

    It’s weak, pitiful, and sets the progress of women’s equal rights back to the stone age.

     

    You mean, back when they weren’t able to make their own decisions, without meddling from self-appointed “moral crusaders?”

    (No, actually, that couldn’t be what you meant. They didn’t really have those back in the Stone Age.)

     

    I don’t like sex-work because we are more than sexual creatures to be ogled at by men. To make money off our bodies is disgraceful. Which brings me back to my first post about the morality of this.  I see the conundrum.  You’re not helping.

     

    No, actually, you don’t see the conundrum. All you care about is your “morality.” If you actually gave a hoot about sex workers, who are no less women and human beings than you, you would support policies that helped them (even if only to get out of the field) rather than further criminalize and stigmatize them as sex offenders.

  • betyet

    Women want to have their cake and eat it too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_2LpLhOsc4

  • betyet

    Women want to have their cake and eat it too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_2LpLhOsc4

  • ldan

    I actually get to vote on this one, and I voted no. I’m of the opinion that people who don’t like other people earning money by having sex can choose to not support them by not buying sex. Trying to enforce morality via laws of this sort doesn’t work. All that criminalizing sex workers does is make it unsafe for them because they can’t risk coming forward to authorities about crimes against them. You’re saying that your moral disapproval is worth risking them further than is already the case because…well, it might dissuade a few people from chosing that line of work? That’s kind of sick when you think about the actual people being harmed by these sorts of policies. But it let’s you feel comfortable and moral that you’ve made a ‘dirty’ line of work even dirtier.

     

    You said above that you wouldn’t ordinarily support such controlling legislation, save that it aligns with your moral code. That’s a pretty crappy set of convictions. ‘doing something wrong is ok so long as the ends are in line with my moral code’

     

    And for the record, I’m not sure why you think that it requires no skills and isn’t hard work, but wow nice way to just say “they’re lazy, good-for-nothings, and I’m *helping* them by…what? Do you think they’re actually going to have much luck finding other work once they’re labelled as sex offenders?

     

    Criminalizing people who force people to have sex for money…that’s awesome, but it’s not really what this law does. It also focuses the attention on human trafficking solely on trafficking of sex workers, which is one small bit of that problem. It doesn’t address the indentured servant nannies, field workers, housekeepers, etc. It just gets up on an anti-sex moral high horse to draw in some votes. Boo for the proposition and boo for your high-handed moralizing about what happens to ‘those people’.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    I’d rather see the johns (mostly married anti-choice creeps and priests) criminalized and publicly shamed instead of women who are often brutalized slaves.

  • vineeta

    I resolutely do no believe this is true,

    “There is little evidence that strengthening criminal penalties and relying primarily on law enforcement are strategies to end forced labor”

    Rape is not forced labor, it is rape.

    Making black slavery illegal meant a great deal, just like criminalizing most forms of child labor mattered so much to getting kids out of coal mines and into schools. Laws and their enforcement matter, and it disturbs me to see the noble history of figuring out how to implement rules that will make our culture a more just place brushed off so casually when the people who would benefit from them are mostly rape victims.

    Countries with the toughest penalties for pimps and johns who sexually exploit others while decriminalizing persons in prostitution are the countries where life for women and children is consistently ranked the highest in the world- Scandinavia. To switch to their system is one fell swoop would be reckless, but Prop 35 is part of the process of making and adjusting laws towards that goal and I support this step forward. 

  • ljean8080

    with underage hookers should be treated like  any other child molester

  • crowepps

    There’s also the possibility that the likelihood of engaging in prostitution is pretty evenly spread throughout the population, and that what happens disproportionately, as it does with drugs,  is arresting women of color while letting others off the hook.

    You might also consider exactly what it means that the average age of entry into exploitation through pornography and prostitution is 12, and many of the girls involved are homeless.  Considering that, it would make more sense to me personally instead of continuing a thousand year history of criminalizing “people who choose to spend their time having sex for money” that instead we try something new and levy harsh penalities against “people who choose to spend their time paying money for sex”.  It would be an interesting experiment to see what happened if the johns ended up on the sex offender list instead.

  • julie-watkins

    via The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander: this isn’t anything that anyone can do a class action lawsuit about. It’s gone to the Supreme Court multiple times for different variations of great-statistical-viariance-of-outcomes-depending-on-race, and unless the police officer or DA explicitly says “I’m doing this because you’re black/latino/etc” then the petitioner can’t “prove” it’s racism. Use statistics is effectively not allowed as evidence. And petitioners can’t ask for DA/Police records & emails during discovery to look for evidence of racist comments.

  • prochoiceferret

    Laws and their enforcement matter, and it disturbs me to see the noble history of figuring out how to implement rules that will make our culture a more just place brushed off so casually when the people who would benefit from them are mostly rape victims.

     

    I’m not really seeing how registering “rape victims” (your term for sex workers, apparently) as sex offenders is supposed to benefit them.

     

    Countries with the toughest penalties for pimps and johns who sexually exploit others while decriminalizing persons in prostitution are the countries where life for women and children is consistently ranked the highest in the world- Scandinavia. To switch to their system is one fell swoop would be reckless, but Prop 35 is part of the process of making and adjusting laws towards that goal and I support this step forward.

     

    Except that Prop 35 is about criminalizing persons in prostitution, not decriminalizing them. I guess you could see this as “part of the process of making and adjusting laws towards that goal,” if you subscribe to “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” logic.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    That should include anti-choice pedophile priests and GOP thugs.

  • colleen

    I am delighted to be able to agree with you about something.

  • vineeta

    You are mistaken about Prop 35 criminalizing sex trafficking victims, please re-read whatever it was that gave you that impression.

    If I had wanted to say that all sex workers were rape victims I would have said so, but this a bill specifically addressing the rapes of illegal sex trafficking victims and not about unraped, legal sex workers.

  • vineeta

    I didn’t get it, but you’re agreeing with the author that “sexual exploitation” is an empty, meaningless term and criminal concept because it is impossible to define and, like most feminist illuminations of gendered power abuse, is more likely to be used against women than for their benefit. Yeah, that goes in the nonsense pile with the stuff about making slavery illegal being a pointless exercise in wishful thinking.

  • jennifer-starr

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • prochoiceferret

    What part of

     

    Under Prop 35, anyone involved in the sex trade could potentially be viewed as being involved in trafficking, and could face all of the criminal penalties associated with this redefinition of who is involved in “trafficking,” which include fines of between $500,000 and $1 million and prison sentences ranging from five years to life. This is in addition to having to register as a sex offender

     

    did you not understand?

  • iactuallyreadtheprops

    I would just like to point out that one of the top commentators and opposers, Mary Ellen “Maxine” Doogan, is a convicted PIMP posing as a progressive activist for sex workers.

    Source: http://www.sfexaminer.com/node/131846

     

    This proposition has nothing to do with sex between consenting adults. Prop 35 is a step in the right direction for justice.

    No longer will minors that have been through the HELL of sex trafficking be accused of “wanting to do it him/her-self”. Victims can NO LONGER BE BLAMED in a court of law for the crime of pimps and gang members that are master manipulators.

  • iactuallyreadtheprops

    Prostitution is already illegal under California law. This will make pimps, who use internet sites like backpage.com to put girls ages 12-14 up for sale, register as sex offenders and disclose internet accounts.

     

    Prop 35 is moving legislation to keep up with the times, it’s no longer girls and young boys put out the streets, it’s on the internet and in 4-5 star hotels like the Sheraton.

  • prochoiceferret

    Prostitution is already illegal under California law. This will make pimps, who use internet sites like backpage.com to put girls ages 12-14 up for sale, register as sex offenders and disclose internet accounts.

     

    Which would be great, if the law didn’t also allow for the sex workers themselves to also be required to register as sex offenders and disclose Internet accounts.

     

    You might want to read the props a little closer.

  • vineeta

    I understand the law very well, I’ve read the proposal, and it absolutely does not target anyone merely involved in any way with the sex trade. Who it targets is very meticulously named in extensive legalese specifying exploiters. Libertarian linguistics where “sex worker” means everyone from pimps to raped kids and “sexual exploitation” means absolutely nothing is anti-feminism. What woman reading this has not had men tell her that “sexual harassment” is an untenable legal concept because innocent men are thrown in jail for complimenting women and asking them on dates?

    Sexual harassment is a real, definable thing and commercial sexual exploitation is too.

    Prop 35 does not criminalize the entire sex trade, that’s a gross exaggeration. Thankfully most Californians are sensible enough to know Prop 35 won’t jail all hundreds of thousands of sex worker employees throughout California. I wish more feminists could come back to practical reality on this, but the sex industry lobby managed to convince feminists that condoms are unsafe and unhealthy for sex workers who make porn, so I’ll admit my hope-o-meter is low. 

  • ack

    My problem with Prop 35 is that’s too vague. From my reading, there IS room for sex workers and prostituted women and teens to be required to register as sex offenders, even if that’s not the intent. And the pieces that seem to target people who recruit minors into prostitution could easily be used by an overzealous prosecutor to charge victims with trafficking. Take, for instance, a homeless teen who’s been engaging in survival sex. Ze tells another homeless kid about it, and that kid joins up. Did the first minor recruit the other minor? What happens to teenagers who might be on the streets with no “manager” or pimp? What if they’re all pooling money or food or whatever they get in exchange, so they’re all profiting from it?

     

    If you think that no one would ever charge that, you have to realize that prostituted teens and adults are often not viewed as victims, but as criminals. This may change over time, but in the meantime, you’ve got a new law with very little clarity. The chances for misuse are incredibly high.

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