Decriminalizing Prostitution in Cali?

There was a great article on Women’s eNews yesterday about voters in Berkeley, California that are considering the possibility of decriminalizing prostitution, which would greatly increase social services to the prostitutes in the city. Many people, however, consider it even more of a risk and claim that the measure would only give more business to pimps.
Robyn Few — a former prostitute and founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project — is one of many who are reaching out to voters to think about this measure, which would essentially put prostitution at the bottom of the police department’s list of priorities of city crime. With this in effect, violence and rape against prostitutes would decrease, health care would increase, and it would enable prostitutes to get off the streets and stimulate statewide reform. “We want to show the state that Berkeley believes that prostitution should be decriminalized to save the lives of women and to end discrimination against women.” states Few. Berkeley would be the first city in the country to decriminalize the profession.
How would all of this reform take place? If prostitution is decriminalized, the city would be required to direct a good amount of the $ 1 million it spends annually on enforcement of prostitution towards social services for prostitutes. The city council would also lobby new state leaders that oppose current prostitution laws.
Many are arguing against this possible measure, including the city’s police department. They claim that pimps will become businessmen and prostitution will only spread. They also complain that under decriminalization, even more valuable street time will wasted on complaints of discarded condoms and open sex acts. Wasted time? This is their job, is it not? And we wonder why prostitutes never go to the police when they’re raped or abused…
What we should think about is the 2,000 prostitutes that are murdered every year. Murder is the number one cause of death among street-walkers. Decriminalizing prostitution would be giving prostitutes some power over their lives, like the power and freedom to go to a health care clinic that will test them for HIV, or to the police if they are raped and/or beaten. The lives of these women should be priority, no?

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