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09-15-08, 02:49 PM #1
Ballot measure to decriminalize prostitution divides liberal San Francisco
At age 22, Patricia West already has her small-business model fully launched. She's done her market research, knows how to advertise online and has a competitive rate structure.
She's one of a number of sex workers waging a campaign to decriminalize prostitution here. They're supporting Proposition K, which would shift the city's focus from prosecuting prostitution to pursuing those who prey on sex workers and increasing public health outreach. The goal, West says, is to reduce violence against women and improve the health of sex workers and their clients.
"It's a morally based, antiquated law," she said. "Decriminalize prostitution and you bring it out of the underground and off the black market. That way you can start organizing, clean up the dangerous elements. Sex workers want safe streets like everyone else."
The battle over Proposition K is causing political rifts in this free-thinking city, which for years has wrestled with ways to effectively regulate its vibrant sex industry.
The measure is opposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris and much of the business community, who say it will attract unwanted criminal elements to the city and hamper efforts to fight human trafficking.
But it also has powerful backers. Placed on the Nov. 4 ballot after receiving 12,000 petition signatures, Proposition K was recently endorsed by the Democratic County Central Committee. The measure is also supported by Jeffrey Klausner, director of STD control and prevention for the city's health department.
"When a female sex worker talks to her doctor, she's often not forthcoming about her occupation for fear of arrest," he said. "Doctors can't give adequate care without knowing a patient's occupational risks."
Klausner said he hasn't discussed his support for Proposition K with his bosses at the health department and acknowledges there may be a political price for his activism. "But sometimes you just have to do the right thing," he said.
Proposition K would ban San Francisco police from using any public resources to investigate or prosecute sex workers on prostitution charges. Critics say the law would attract pimps, human smugglers and others who profit from the sex trade.
Proposition K isn't the first attempt to decriminalize prostitution in the Bay Area. A similar effort by San Francisco sex workers two years ago failed to get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. In 2004, Berkeley residents voted down a similar measure.
Terence Hallinan, San Francisco's district attorney from 1995 to 2003, has long supported decriminalizing prostitution. He thinks Proposition K is a step in the right direction.
"I support the concept that prostitution is something that should be legalized but controlled. But how far citizens can go in telling police how they can spend their money is legally at issue," Hallinan said.
If Proposition K were to pass, San Francisco would join 11 Nevada counties and the state of Rhode Island, which take a more liberal stance toward prostitution.
The city's Erotic Service Provider's Union, which spearheaded the initiative, argues that in countries such as the Netherlands, New Zealand and Thailand, where payment for sex is allowed, sex workers are more likely to use condoms and have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections.
But in San Francisco, prophylactics are often seized, backers of the measure say. "Condoms are used by police and prosecutors as evidence of illegal activity, so sex workers are less likely to carry or use them," Klausner said.
Critics say that argument is simply false.
"Condoms are evidence that prostitution is going on, but it's not evidence against the sex worker themselves but the location of where the crime is committed," said Tim Hettrich, who retired this year as a captain in the Police Department's vice and narcotics unit. "There's no law against carrying a condom, or we'd be arresting 16-year-old boys."
Proposition K would force police to target people who prey physically on prostitutes -- including thieves and johns.
Hettrich, the retired policeman, said those risks are overstated.
"Obviously, these people are victimized," he said. "Customers say, 'I'm not going to pay this prostitute, I'm going to smack her.' But I don't think the magnitude of that violence is that high. And this new law would not stop the brothel owners and pimps from getting violent, it would help them. It'll make it harder for police to zero in on their work."
Full story: http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-sf...221,full.story
Sex workers, the county Democratic committee and a health official support Proposition K as a boon to prostitutes' and the public's safety. The mayor, the D.A. and the business community oppose it.
By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 15, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO --
09-15-08, 06:09 PM #2
I think parts of liberal California really is turning into Hell on earth. Keep fighting CA LEO's.I'm not ruining your life, you are, and I'm just going to write a short story about it.
09-15-08, 06:16 PM #3The true measure of your character is what you choose to do when you think no one is looking.
09-15-08, 10:01 PM #4
San Francisco is the poster child for what's wrong with California. Their rep in Washington is 100% anti-gun but she has a carry permit. Hows that work. and I bet the prop passes.
Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer. --Al Bundy
09-15-08, 10:18 PM #5
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
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