Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting NO on San Francisco's Prop K

Tomorrow the citizens of San Francisco will be voting on Proposition K. Popularly known as a measure aimed at legalizing prostitution, the horrible truth behind Prop K is that it will make the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases nearly impossible.

Supporters of Prop K use a familiar refrain for supporting the legalization of prostitution: legalization will actually help cutout the exploitation of women by allowing for proper oversight of a mainstreamed economic industry. This line of thought was employed in Amsterdam, Germany and other places where legalization was the chosen route. (NOTE: only one country appears to have a proven model for protecting women and children: Sweden. Instead of going after prostitutes, Sweden vigorously prosecutes the men that exploit and drive demand.)

For many San Franciscans it's easy to take the knee jerk perspective that we should employ whatever is deemed progressive. Unfortunately Prop K misses the point badly... especially for a so-called 'progressive model'.

Let's peel back the onion just a touch. Instead of making a call for more thorough oversight Prop K actually calls for exactly the opposite. Prop K is worded in a way that makes oversight more difficult, if not impossible. The language in Prop K would make it illegal for police and law enforcement to garner state and federal funding to investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking by falsely deeming it 'racial profiling'. Read the Prop for yourself (make sure to get to the first paragraph of "The Proposal").

According to Kamala Harris, San Francisco's District Attorney:

[Proposition K] would expressly bar the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes. Human trafficking is a serious problem in San Francisco. Many people in the commercial sex trade have been trafficked and forced to participate in commercial sex. This measure would attempt to provide safe harbor to their traffickers.

Prop K is written from a prospective that all individuals that sell their bodies do so because they have the free will to make the choice. This might be fine if it were true. The (unthinkable) reality is that many women (and children) are being forced and coerced into the sex industry -- many times to pay off a 'debt'. Just because we as a society have yet to realize this truth, it doesn't make the reality any less true for the victims. Women, children and, yes, men are forced into (sexual) labor under duress and fear. Cases continue to pile up in our country.

If Prop K wanted to be taken seriously as an argument for legalization it should go out of the way to protect potential victims... not strip the city of its ability to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes. But Prop K explicitly forbids oversight, by taking money away from law enforcement while also directing police to ignore California laws aimed at stopping the exploitation of women and children.

Prop K is simply and utterly broken. If you are a citizen of San Francisco I would ask you to join me in voting NO on Prop K.

Mark Wexler

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