Senator Scott Wiener
California State Senate
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Senator Weiner:
On behalf of ____, I am writing to support Senate Bill 233. This bill will simply prioritize the health and safety of people engaged in sex work over criminalizing them. SB 233 prohibits the arrest of individuals engaged in sex work when they come forward as a witness or a victim of specified violent and serious crimes. This bill also clarifies that the possession of condoms may not be used as probable cause to arrest someone for sex work.
Currently, People working in prostitution are victims of violent crimes at a disproportionately higher rate. A 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco and St. James Infirmary found that 60% of sex workers experience some form of violence while working. Specifically, 32% of sex workers reported a physical attack while engaging in sex work, and 29% reported being sexually assaulted while engaging in sex work.
We also know that treating condoms as evidence of sex work exacerbates this unsafe work environment because it discourages sex workers from practicing safe sex. Data from multiple countries link the criminalization of sex work with up to a five-fold increase in the risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or other sexually transmitted infections.
The criminalization of prostitution results in sex workers largely not trusting law enforcement due to fear that they will be arrested or mistreated. This is particularly true for people of color, street-based sex workers, and transgender women who face the most harassment and arrests. To reduce new HIV infections and promote safer sex, it is also crucial that sex workers be able to carry condoms without fear that they will be confiscated or used to criminalize them.
_______supports SB 233 as a common-sense measure to improve the overall safety of sex workers and to reduce violence and crimes within the sex industry and our communities at large.