SThere is a bill that will be on the ballot this fall in San Francisco, backed by the Erotic Service Providers Union [ESPU], which seeks to end the criminalization of prostitution and solicitation. Newsweek quotes a statement released by the ESPU's Maxine Doogan earlier this month: "Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long," Doogan said, and added that criminalizing prostitution is "a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults." Mayor Gavin Newsom and the SF DA Kamala D. Harris don't really buy what Doogan's selling. Harris said, "To suggest that this is somehow an issue that only involves consensual adults, that's just not true. No matter how these girls and women are packaged for sale, the reality is that for many of them, their life experience is often wrought with abuse and exploitation."And much of the research backs Harris's opinion. Newsweek noted a comprehensive study of prostitution in the places where it's legal (including Nevada) and found that "illegal prostitution, as well as the number of rapes and assaults against prostitutes, has increased. Farley also found that more than 80 percent of the women working as prostitutes in Nevada's legal brothels 'urgently want to escape.'" A compromise seems to be scaling back the penalties on the prostitutes and increasing the sentences for johns, which is something San Francisco is already doing with its First Offender Prostitution Program, which Newsweek describes as "like traffic school for drivers with too many speeding tickets." People who are arrested for soliciting sex can opt to pay $1,000 and attend the FOPP workshops which are a "a series of 'scared straight' talks about the ills of prostitution mixed with some seriously graphic sexual-health education." Schools like this have a pretty decent track record, according to Newsweek, "recidivism rates of those who completed "Johns school" were 30 percent less likely to be rearrested for soliciting sex than were men who did not opt for the program." On the one hand, I have no moral opposition to the idea of people selling and buying consensual sex, but knowing the statistics, how could you vote in favor of a law that could increase human trafficking? A School For Johns [Newsweek]
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