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Friday, February 5, 2016


Below is a comment we put on SWOP's site in support of decriminalization of prostitution on their site.

Sex Workers Anonymous as a 12 step program is not supposed to "have an opinion on an outside issue".  However, we feel this issue of criminalization is an "inside" issue just as it would affect Alcoholics Anonymous if prohibition were to be brought back into law.  Our group is the one who founded the modern day anti-sex trafficking movement.

We formed as a 12 step program so that victims of trafficking could be offered an "alternative to incarceration" instead of being treated like criminals in a world that didn't believe there even was such a thing.   Because prostitution is still a crime in all but a few counties in the USA - the religious right came and "backlashed" our movement by coining the terms "trafficking victim" to make it appear there's two different kinds of "victims".

Only there isn't.  There is the sex industry just like any other industry under which sometimes there's forced labor which is no different than when this happens in the farming, hospitality, mining, or other industries when someone is sold and/or forced to work in said industry.  Where this country is having a hard time understanding that trafficking can happen in both the legal and illegal sex industries is for just this reason - because prostitution is still criminalized.

I'd like to point you to cases like Holtzclaw where predators are still targeting prostitutes because they know the system is still not treating them the same as any other human being, as well as cases like Chris Butler, Kemp Shiffer, and even this NY cop who was just arrested for trafficking 10 women in NY.  Meaning that even cops can be traffickers.

Now I ask you - how are we supposed to get victims to be able to come forward with evidence against these men when prostitution is illegal and to do so means incrimination?  Even this NY pimp was only discovered after an "anonymous" tip - meaning they were afraid to come forward with what they knew because it's a crime.

Prostitution being illegal does nothing but hinder prosecutions against the criminals who rape, abuse, traffick and murder men, women and children in this country.  It's also creating this "hijacking" of the movement we created by people who want to make it appear that only those who identify as a "victim" are to be treated like human beings.  That those who are not "repetant" or cry "force" are still to be treated like criminals.  It's no different than saying one would not be considered a rape victim unless you were raped by a stranger, or only if you lost a limb fighting back.

We are having FBI agents, and police, even judges, now suddenly saying they no longer want to use our program as an "alternative to sentencing" because we're a "group of nothing but criminals" and that's a quote from an FBI agent in Omaha, Nebraska.  I'm sorry but this is like saying that the courts are going to start making a distinction between the addict who was using street drugs vs. those who were only using prescribed drugs.  Any addict should be able to receive help instead of being treated like a criminal = just as ANY sex worker should be able to receive help to leave the sex industry without having to call themselves "victim" because prostitution is illegal.

Trafficking has proven to increase where it's legalized as we've seen with Amsterdam and in Las Vegas - leaving the best tool we have against sex trafficking, and to build prosecutions against those harming us as being to decriminalize prostitution.  Because it's illegal, I can't even hardly find a meeting hall because most require insurance.  Insurance I can't get because technically a "group of criminals gathering" is considered a "conspiracy".  NA has had laws passed that allow them to meet, but I assure you there's more of them than of us.  The jails right now are pushing addicts out of them, while shoving prostitutes back in with the other.

There's not a day that goes by when our hotline doesn't receive a call from a person who can't find work outside of sex work because of their criminal record of prostitution.  These bills that are calling for "expungment if they can prove trafficking" is a complete waste of time.  If they could "prove" trafficking they would have.  This also doesn't take into account those who have this charge because of pleading down to it nor do most sex workers have money laying around to hire a private investigator and an attorney just so they can go get an $8 an hour job.

In other words, them having a record is tying them into prostitution.  It's punitive all the way around on the wrong person the courts and police should be focusing on.  We've been saying since day one that decriminalization is the best way there is to end trafficking, end demand for trafficking, and to put the real predators behind bars.

Why do I say "end demand for trafficking victims?"  When you arrest a man or woman for buying sex - they don't stop - they just get smarter.  Meaning they'll turn to someone they "know" isn't a cop in the future.  Now how do you do that?  By going to a trafficker that's how.  I've been involved with the board of Sexaholics Anonymous for years and I can assure you that's what happens.  So even having prostitution on the books as a crime against the clients increases sex trafficking.  Now - if you want to end sex trafficking you end it like they ended bootlegging - by decriminalizing prostitution.  If you have any questions - contact us at

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