Coalition on Prostitution
PO Box 210256
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 435-7931

Advocating for Prostitutes' Rights Within Criminalization

Excerpted from: Recommendations Regarding Police Abuse for Commission on The Status of Women: Joint Hearing on Violence in the Workplace

Executive Summary
The recommendations below are from a report on the Human Rights Violations of Sex Workers, as presented to the Human Rights Commission.

Further research. education and organizing should be undertaken to facilitate decriminalization (repeal of laws against prostitution) on a national, regional and local level. The following are recommendations to be applied to a transitional period:

Sensitivity Training for Police
Sensitivity training should be given to officers to help create an atmosphere on the police force that does not support verbal and other abuse. Issues should include race, sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of poverty and prostitution. Officers could be trained to deal with rape and other violence, helping prostitutes get help when they need it.

A stated policy should be circulated among Police/Sheriff's department employees prohibiting abusive behavior including verbal abuse including racist/sexist/transphobic /homophobic remarks by staff.

Mechanisms For Recourse
A fair and supportive system through which sex workers can report crimes against themselves should be established. The Office of Citizen Complaints is not a workable mechanism to deal with the majority of complaints from sex workers for several reasons, including the fact that street workers exacerbate their own vulnerability by making a complaint. Research should be done to facilitate additional mechanisms.

Prostitutes' Issues Liaison
A liaison or ombudsperson should be appointed to oversee police interactions within the context of all venues that include sex workers as employees (although they are not necessarily prostitution venues, i.e.. strip clubs, fetish businesses), as well as on the street.

Some reports suggest that there are searches beyond the laws' requirements. Interview arrestees and Police/Sheriff's Department employees about the frequency circumstances of strip searches.

Inspect prostitution arrest records; examine legislation and enforcement practices and analyze them in the context of civil rights violations and gender discrimination policies; obtain testimonies of police and of prostitutes regarding interactions

Vice Department Assignments
Vice assignments should not be voluntaryinstead, officers should be assigned to Vice as they would be to any other detail. There should be limits on how long anyone could work on Vice, and no oneshould be permitted to work Vice more than once. Moreover, the unit could consist of equal numbers of men and women, and should not arrest prostitutes in greater number than clients.

Educational Campaigns
Funding should be available for needs assessment from a peer based analysis, and to educate the workers about their rights and recourse. Focus groups should determine strategies for reducing work site violence.

There should be a campaign to let sex workers know that there are people who are interested in their rights and inform them of opportunities for recourse. This will create a healthier environment in general, reducing violence against prostitutes (as those who target them become aware of this program), reducing intra-community violence, and increasing self-respect and independence by letting sex workers know that society does value and respect their human rights.