protest sign saying "sex workers rights = human rights"

Hawaiian sex workers deserve protection, too!

The weekend of May 3rd, there was a sting operation in Honolulu, and over a dozen workers at several massage parlors were arrested. Massage parlor arrests are not out of the ordinary in Hawaii. What makes this particular operation unusual, however, is that the women were all taken in to custody charges of 4th degree sexual assault. 

Until recently, Hawaiian police misconduct against sex workers was legal. Seen in this context, these arrests are hardly surprising. However, the sexual assault charges have the potential to set a very scary precedent. Fourth degree sexual assault carries a potential sentence of a year in jail; much harsher than the one month typically imposed in a prostitution sentencing there.

It is unclear whether or not these women are migrant workers, and decriminalization of prostitution is not currently on the table in the Hawaiian legislature. In California, however, an organization has filed a suit stating that the criminalization of sex work is an invasion of privacy. Unless and until actions like this become the norm, workers everywhere remain in danger.

To help raise awareness about this issue, I co-authored a petition with the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Please sign and distribute.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Washington, D.C.

A documentarian and an educator, Amy holds an MA in gender and media studies from GW University. She has taught gender studies at the University of Guam, and her first full length film is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and distributed on Amazon Prime. She works in the education department at DCTV, and lives in the District of Columbia.

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