Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SF Measure K - Please Read Between the Lines

I know, totally off the "Tech and Cycling" topic. But, here goes....

This is one for all y'all in SF. One issue some of my friends and I have become involved in over the last few years is the movement against human trafficking (a.k.a "slavery"). There are more than 27 million people held in slavery in the world today - more than any time in history. Check out the "Not for Sale" project for some good reading:

So, you ask, how does this relate to an ordinance legalizing prostitution? Unfortunately, the Measure K ordinance is very broad and lacks any sort of regulatory protections for sex workers. While I believe that a good intellectual argument could be made for legalizing adult persons providing services of their own free will, I also believe this measure better serves the interests of pimps and traffickers than it does the interests of the workers. I think the second clause of the measure is what is attracting the support of folks. Certainly, crimes against sex workers should be investigated fully without regard to their profession. No one would disagree with that. Unfortunately, one cannot take half of the measure and leave the rest behind.

Here is the language of Measure K:
Shall the City: stop enforcing laws against prostitution; stop funding or supporting the First Offender Prostitution Program or any similar anti-prostitution program; enforce existing criminal laws that prohibit crimes such as battery, extortion and rape, regardless of the victim's status as a sex worker; and fully disclose the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers?

Here is what SF District Attorney Kamala Harris has to say about Measure K (I get the impression she is a thoughtful and wise person, generally):
Unfortunately, my office sees the faces of women and children being exploited every day. Many are brought to San Francisco against their will by human trafficking rings that force them into sexual slavery. Many speak little English and don't know their rights. Many are victims of pimps who control their lives.

All of them are scared.

Proposition K empowers pimps and human traffickers, allowing them to exploit their victims without repercussion.

If Proposition K passes, San Francisco's justice system will turn a blind eye to those who violate the human rights and dignity of their victims, encouraging these dangerous predators to come to San Francisco.

Proposition K forces police officers to disregard California's prostitution laws, strips ALL funding to investigate human trafficking rings and prevents my office from prosecuting prostitution- related crimes.

This measure will harm prostituted children, for whom enforcement efforts are often the only hope. Only by pursuing and prosecuting abusers can we find these young victims and give them the help they need.

Services will be cut across the board if Proposition K passes. City funding will end for re-education programs like the First Offender Prostitution Program and Early Intervention Prostitution Program.

Proposition K conceals the inhumane nature of prostitution and cripples efforts of law enforcement, human rights groups and social service agencies to assist those seeking to escape.

As a law enforcement officer, a woman and a citizen of San Francisco, I ask you to join me in voting NO on Proposition K.

Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney

Anhoo, just some stuff for y'all to mull over before hitting the voting booth.


alicat said...

thanks for your thoughtful post. you know the big prostitution bust of this week? well several of my students (yes, 8th graders!) have been approaced to work for these same pimps who were arrested. so this one hits close to home...

chatterbox said...

alicat - yikes. That is just heartbreaking that your 8th graders have been approached by these pimps. Yes, I think it was the news of the bust that happened this week that actually prompted me to say something.

My SF gal pals and I had already been discussing it for some time. I was so happy to finally see some news coverage of the measure this evening. I felt I had to say something, since there's hardly been a blip on the radar for this one, which seems more benign than it is on the surface....