San Francisco Not Hooker-Friendly, Rejects Prop K

Why not decriminalize the age-old tradition of horny men leading scantily clad young ladies into their cars using wads of cash? San Francisco Killer nurse download.com/news/politics/2008/11/04/2008-11-04_san_francisco_prostitutes_lose_propositi.html”>just rejected Proposition K, a bill to end police arrests of prostitutes and discontinue funding of anti-prostitution programs, and I don’t understand why.

The prostitutes in Brazil have unionized, German hookers are allowed to get on with their business as long as they show up for their monthly check ups and, in Amsterdam, ladies of the evening pose in red light district windows. A little closer to home, Rhode Island allows prostitution provided it’s conducted indoors and Nevada’s down with hookers in counties with under 400,000 residents. So why won’t the rest of the country hop on the lube-drenched bandwagon?

Prostitution is a victimless crime and, if the cliché is true, it’s also the world’s oldest profession in spite of its widespread illegality. TV shows like Showtime’s trashtastic “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and the fact that “Pretty Woman” is still a popular—if wildly unrealistic– movie speak to America’s familiarity with selling sex. A recent UCSF study found that even the very people in charge of snuffing out prostitution can’t seem to get enough of the whole sex for money thing. According to the survey, 1 out of 7 prostitutes in San Francisco claim to have been threatened with arrests unless they gave the officers a free sample of their goods. More ridiculous still, 1 in 5 reported that they’ve had police officers as clients, making the dozens of arrests that many long time hookers have racked up look even more ridiculous when as much as 20% of the force clearly has no problem with getting down with whores in the backseat of a squad car.

Plus, the use of condoms as evidence in prostitution cases means that a lot of call girls skip the rubbers in order to avoid a prosecution. Seeing as the hookers themselves sleep around by profession and their clients probably aren’t the most monogamous of fellows, skipping a condom often means welcoming a whole host of skeevy STDs into their nether-regions. Nasty, right?

Prostitution is not something that’s going to just disappear with half-hearted legal crackdowns, it’s a part of our social and pop cultures so we might as well make it as safe as possible. Enough with the quick and dirty back alley business, decriminalizing prostitution will mean safer transactions for sex workers and their johns.

Photo: flickr courtesy of Alessandro Isnotaurelio.

*Before anybody leaves an indignant comment about how terrible pimps and brothels are for the poor, defenseless victims of prostitution, Prop K does not call for the legalization of pimping, forced prostitution or brothel-keeping, which are admittedly pretty terrible and exploitative. In fact, adopting Prop K would actually mean that prostitutes could go to the police if they were being exploited rather than just dealing with all the pistol whippings and whatnot.

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    7 Comments

  1. Boston Blake says

    Though I voted Yes on K, I did so after much deliberation. Decriminalization is not legalization. Prostitution laws are largely unenforced in San Francisco. Craigslist’s erotic services section is evidence enough. The SF Weekly’s classifieds add to the case. For sex slaves, arrest can be their way out of an otherwise hopeless situation.

    I am all for legalization of prostitution, complete with heath code restrictions, taxes, and workers’ rights, but I’m not convinced this vague bill would truly benefit the community in any visible way. The SFPD can selectively enforce existing laws without compromising their ability to help those who are prisoners of the sex trade.

  2. says

    While I agree in theory that arrests can help sex slaves out of that mess, something like less than 2% of prostitution arrests actually lead to any sort of trial/any further action.

    My support of K isn’t actually based in a belief that decriminalizing prostitution would better the community. I don’t think it would worsen it though and, as things stand, repeatedly arresting and processing prostitutes only to release them the next day is an ongoing waste of resources .

    As for Craigslist, ironically enough, Reuters ran a story about their upcoming crackdown on erotic ads this morning: http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE4A56X920081106

  3. dene chen says

    If prostitution is decriminalized, then we can start taxing the working girls for their income! I mean, I think it’s a good idea- America is just not ready for it yet.

  4. Madeline Kane says

    For me, the symbolic value of state-condoned prostitution is just too horrific. I followed the testimony of a prostitution ring criminal case in PA and OH, and the evidence revealed that while the girls nominally chose this “profession,” they were physically and psychological broken by their pimps to the degree that they could not leave, though many of them tried.

    The coercion that goes into recruitment is equally appalling. Most of the prostitutes were low-income, low self-esteem victims of abuse who met a “boyfriend” in the mall who alienated them from their support system before convincing them to sleep with a friend for money, and so on. One girl was literally sold by her mother in exchange for a mortgage payment.

    Legalization in places like Amsterdam has been shown to increase, not decrease, this form of human trafficking. While girls may have made higher pay and get screened for STD’s if Prop K were passed, the number of girls coerced into prostitution and trafficked to San Francisco would have increased many times over.

    Please read this article about the case, which highlights the abuse of the pimps.
    http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070327/NEWS03/70327033

    And where political action is concerned, let’s support harsh sentences for pimps and Congress’s ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

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