Alaska Sex Workers Support Immunity Bill

Alaska Sex Workers Support Immunity Bill
Rhett Pardon

ANCHORAGE — Alaska Senate Bill 21, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner D-Anchorage last year, has been updated with language the sex trade of Alaska now supports.  

The Community United for Safety and Protection, a group of current and former sex workers in the state of Alaska, said in a press release today that the bill’s new language would allow people in the sex trades who are the victims or witnesses of crimes like murder, sex trafficking or assault to make reports to the police without being charged with prostitution.

SB 21’s title in the Legislature is: "An Act relating to immunity from prosecution for the crime of prostitution." 

“SB 21 is an important step towards enfranchising members of our community into Alaska’s promise of equal protection under the law for everybody and improving public safety by addressing violent criminals who start out by preying on our population," CUSP officials said. “We urge everyone to lend their support to SB 21.”

Currently when sex workers are the victims of violent crimes, CUSP officials said it does its best to warn each other of the perpetrator.  

“In a recent example in Fairbanks, a woman posted a Backpage ad warning fellow escorts of a man with a gun who had robbed her,” the group said. “It is not consistent with our Alaskan values to allow criminals to target our most vulnerable community members with impunity.”

CUSP officials said is asking members of the Alaska Senate Judiciary to add more crimes to the list that people in the sex trade could report without being prosecuted for prostitution, including extortion, robbery, coercion, sexual assault of a minor and child pornography.  

SB 21 has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee chaired by Sen. Lesil McGuire R-Anchorage.