Sex Workers in San Francisco Can Now Report Violence Without Fear of Being Arrested for Prostitution

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Too often sex workers are afraid to report violence or rape to
authorities while working due to the threat of arrest for
prostitution (and not to mention police officers who might

abuse

their

power
.) But new policies enacted in San Francisco have been
put in place to help change that.

The new guidelines, finalized in December and announced January
11, state that sex workers reporting assault, rape, stalking,
threats, robbery, or extortion can then not be arrested for
prostitution or petty drug crimes, the
San Francisco Chronicle
reports.

Police Chief Bill Scott wrote in a
department bulletin
:

This bulletin institutionalizes the Department’s existing
prioritization of violent crimes and aims to ensure equal
access to safety for persons engaged in sex work and other
forms of sex trade including trafficked persons. The
Department seeks to promote the safety, dignity, and
wellbeing of all San Franciscans, including sex workers; and
to reduce violence, trafficking of persons, and abuse,
including labor violations, within the sex industry.

The bulletin also states that the police department will work
with the District Attorney’s Office to create a training
program on sex work and crimes against sex workers. Between the
Oakland police department’s
sexual misconduct
towards a teenaged sex worker and what’s

currently happening
in Alaska, where cops say they need to
have sexual contact with sex workers in order to arrest them,
it’s difficult to believe the guidelines will actually be
enforced, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

“If we fail to prioritize this population’s health and safety
they will not come forward and work with law enforcement as
witnesses and victims of violence,” District Attorney George
Gascón told the newspaper in a statement. “Ultimately,
unreported crimes and criminals pose a threat to everyone’s
public safety.”

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