SAN FRANCISCO — The ESPLER Project (Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project) issued a statement today opposing California Senate Bill 1024, which was proposed by state Sen. Pat Bates.
ESPLER Project said the following:
SB 1024 redefines the California state law section 266(i) felony of “pandering” to encompass anybody who encourages another person to be a prostitute — which would include our clients, support staff, and potentially friends and partners. This would have a chilling effect on the ability of clients and prostitutes as consenting adults to enter into commercial arrangements for private intimate behavior — as prosecutors could construe almost anything as “encouraging prostitution” — effectively making us all at risk of felony prosecution.
This badly framed legislation repeats the same mistakes at the state level as the recent legislation #SESTA and #FOSTA passed by the U.S. Congress. Both do not differentiate between consensual sex work and sex trafficking. And both make our lives less safe, as websites that could potentially be used for consensual sex work, from webcams to dating sites and social networks, will begin closing down (as Craigslist personals or Nightshift already have), or censoring and banning sex workers. Without safe places to advertise and screen clients we will we be forced back onto the streets and into back alleys, where we will be preyed upon by sexual predators and abused by law enforcement. These bills cause real harm.
Sen. Pat Bates uses the fake sex trafficking talking points pushed by the “sex prohibitionists”, using fake statistics to argue that there is an epidemic of sex trafficking — and that legislators need “more tools” to address it. But there have been dozens of pieces of legislation over the past 18 years seeking to address trafficking — and law enforcement has signally failed to catch all but a few perpetrators — perhaps because there are hardly any there?
And as usual, all this legislative activity (for example with California's Proposition 35 in 2012, SESTA/FOSTA and with SB 1204) is proposed without talking to the people who the laws impact the most — sex workers. All we want is equal access protection under the law, access to free speech and the right to associate. We demand that our elected officials listen to and represent our voices when considering these anti sex laws.
Sex workers will die because of this bill. The politicians that propose bills like SB1204 have blood on their hands. If they are serious about fighting sex trafficking, we call on them to support our fight to decriminalize sex work.
Last week, the Free Speech Coalition also urged members and supporters to voice their opposition to SB 1204.
Check out ESPLER Project's website here.