I have been spending quite a bit of time making efforts in opposition of LA County’s Measure B (about Measure B here), but there are other things on the ballot this November that I feel strongly about. One of them is California’s Proposition 35.
Proposition 35 is a state-wide ballot initiative that would basically rewrite legal conceptualizations of pimping, pandering (solicitation), and prostitution as human-trafficking. In other words, if this initiative passes, all the players in what’s commonly referred to as “the world’s oldest profession” would become human traffickers in some way.
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person or persons in return for payment.
Human trafficking is generally defined as the illegal trade of persons for the purpose of forced commercial labor – people are held against their will and made to work, while others receive all the compensation for their labor. Sometimes the forced labor is sexual in nature.
Though there are certainly many (problematic) grey areas wherein dimensions of prostitution, force, and/or “force” within the context of commercial labor may overlap, all instances of pimping, pandering, and prostitution are most certainly NOT akin to human trafficking. Equating prostitution with human trafficking is grossly uninformed and extremely overbroad.
According to www.NoOnProp35.info:
Sexual service providers abhor and resist trafficking of all kinds, and support appropriate legislation that would effectively help eliminate it – laws that do not inappropriately mis-characterizing other activities as trafficking. Simple human decency demands this; moreover, it is in sex workers’ self-interest to eliminate sex trafficking, since they are trafficking’s likeliest victims. The sexual services extended community has long provided support to trafficking victims and will continue to do so.
Sadly, Proposition 35, as written, would increase the risks to trafficked people and wrongly expand the definition of trafficking to include many entirely consensual adult sexual activities. If Proposition 35 passes, anyone receiving financial support from normal, consensual prostitution among adults could be prosecuted as a human trafficker; this includes a sex worker’s children, parents, spouse, domestic partner, roommate, landlord, or others. And if convicted they would be forced to register as a sex offender for life! [here]
Maxine Doogan, a brilliant and passionate community member who heads the Erotic Service Providers Union in San Francisco, provided a series of statements (via AdultBizLaw.com here) in opposition to Proposition 35. Here are some that I found especially compelling:
- Prop 35 relies on the failed polices of further criminalization of consensual private adult sexual activity.
- Prop 35 could result in children and domestic partners of prostitutes, who are supported financially from a prostitutes’ labor, to be convicted of human trafficking and forced to register on the California sex registry as sex offenders. [For example, children who are supported by monies earned through some dimension of prostitution? Human traffickers under Prop 35!!]
- Prop 35… will give police too much discretion and will likely result in further police abuse of homosexuals and other disfavored minority groups.
-Prop 35 will cost the state of California untold sums to defend it in court challenges and will be struck down as unconstitutional.
- Prop 35 unconstitutionally limits a defendant’s right to assert a defense at trial – by preventing a defense attorney from questioning an alleged victim about voluntary work in the sex industry and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional. [read this text and other points here]
NoOnProp35.info elaborates (and I found this part really interesting):
Rather than working with sex worker communities to stop real human traffickers, far-left “feminist” radicals and far-right religious conservatives promote the flawed Proposition 35. They hope voters who read “trafficking” will be deceived into supporting their futile crusade against the “world’s oldest profession” by further criminalizing people connected with consensual adult prostitution. [here]
This is so unfortunate… Proposition 35 is not unlike Measure B – it misses the point. It seeks to solve perceived problems impacting a community/communities without taking members’ needs, wants, issues, and/or daily lives into consideration.
Proposition 35 appears to be another overbroad “nanny” initiative that attempts to quash something bad – because human trafficking is an awful thing – by conflating it with a form of consensual, commercial, adult-aged sex exchange. Though some may (correctly) point out that the vast majority of prostitution is illegal in the US, il/legality does not make prostitution the same as human trafficking. (by that logic, speeding in your car is human trafficking too)
Just like professional commercial porn production in occurring in Los Angeles County, prostitution is not perfect. But neither Proposition 35 nor Measure B is an informed, productive attempt to address real issues facing real communities in the state of California.
Learn more about Proposition 35 here: www.noonprop35.info
Read more about LA County’s “condom law” Measure B here.
October 22 is THE LAST DAY to register for this election!!
And if it matters to you what I think, I say vote NO on Proposition 35 and NO on Measure B.
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