December 17th: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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For Immediate Release 12/11/2017

The Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) will host Alaska’s 5th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers in Anchorage Sunay, December 17, 1 PM, at the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles, located at 420 West 3rd Avenue in Anchorage (the old Potluck Events). This year there will be a memorial for Patty Phelps (aka Peppermint Patty), our community member whose murder earlier this year is still unsolved – like those of 17 other Anchorage sex workers since 1990.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was started after Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, was caught and confessed to killing over 90 women, most of them sex workers. Similar to Alaska’s sex worker serial killer, Robert Hansen, Ridgeway said that he thought he could kill sex workers for as long as he wanted because no one cared about them. Community United for Safety and Protection will join other sex worker groups across the globe who observe this day to raise visibility of the harms of criminalization.

It was just a year ago that Community United for Safety and Protection released results of a statewide poll exposing Alaskans’ views on sex work. “When you have a statewide poll that shows 90% of Alaskan voters believe should be against the law for police officers to have sexual contact or intercourse with individuals they are investigating and that legislation has been opposed by law enforcement, it shows who is out of step,” said Maxine Doogan. “As a nation and state reeling from the sexual assault and harassment allegations, it would be in Alaska’s best interest to pass House Bill 112, which would make it illegal for police officers to have sex with people in Alaska’s sex trade regardless of if we’re here by force or otherwise.”

The Community United for Safety and Protection is a group of current and former sex workers, including sex trafficking victims, and their allies advocating for safety and protection for everyone in Alaska’s sex trades.

Alaska Public Media: Assembly Approves Immunity for Sex Workers Who Aid Police

Assembly approves granting immunity to sex workers who aid police

Assembly approves granting immunity to sex workers who aid police
By Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media –
June 28, 2017

On Tuesday night, the Anchorage Assembly approved a measure that gives immunity to sex workers who tell police when more serious crimes have occurred.

When the ordinance was first introduced it drew support from advocates, as well as several women who had previously engaged in prostitution. Many testified they’d encountered heinous and violent crime, but were afraid of reporting it to law enforcement for fear of prosecution.
However critics said the proposal was vague, hard to enforce and targeted a problem Anchorage may or may not have. Even after revisions, the municipal prosecutor’s office remained firmly opposed.
But Assembly members like Eric Croft of West Anchorage felt the re-worked ordinance was narrow enough to potentially boost reporting to law enforcement without many negative impacts.
“And it’s not doing very much harm because, again, there aren’t that many prosecutions for this,” Croft said.
Under municipal statue, prostitution is a class B misdemeanor. The new measure specifies a person who witnesses or is victim to a some class A misdemeanors can receive immunity if he or she cooperates in reporting it to police. The move is aligned with a similar provision in SB91, last year’s state omnibus crime bill.
The ordinance passed 10 to 1, with Eagle River representative Amy Demboski opposed.
Elsewhere in the meeting, the Assembly voted to advance a complicated development project. The move opens the possibility of using tax abatement as a tool for converting the outdated Department of Health and Human Services downtown into senior housing, and building new residential units in a section of Midtown Anchorage off Tudor Road. The proposal from the mayor’s administration received some criticism for not working more closely with the school district, which uses a nearby property to operate its fleet
of buses.
The body also approved a parking proposal from East Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar. The measure establishes a grace-period for leaving cars parked downtown overnight on weekends up until 11am the next morning.

Support House Bill 112/Senate Bill 73!!!

We need your help to get HB112/SB73 passed!

The bills are companion bills (ie, identical) that expand Alaska’s current sexual assault statute to prohibit peace officers from sexually penetrating or having sexual contact with those they are investigating. Currently, it is only illegal for police to sexually penetrate those who are in their custody. The bill will close a loophole that currently leaves it up to individual police departments to decide whether peace officers should have sex with sex workers or sex trafficking victims during prostitution stings, but also extend protection to other crime victims, witnesses, or others under active investigation.

For example, the Alaska Supreme Court found that an Alaska State Trooper who had sex with a domestic violence victim after arresting her husband should not have been fired, saying: “Blinkered to the breadth of the allowable inquiry, the court today looks for—and fails to find—‘‘any explicit, well-defined, and dominant public policy requiring termination, rather than suspension, as the only proper discipline for a trooper’s consensual and noncriminal sexual misconduct.’’”

Watch news coverage about HB112/SB73 here and listen to Rachel’s story and sign the petition here.

You can listen to the Alaska State Troopers following up with a woman who had reported that she was a victim of sex trafficking here and read a report about the necessity of the bill here: Expanding Protections.

Currently HB 112 is waiting to be heard in House Judiciary and House State Affairs and SB 73 is waiting to be heard in Senate State Affairs and Senate Judiciary. Send your letter of support NOW to and and copy us at so we can make sure your letters make it into the packet of support. Be sure to open your letter by asking legislators to support HB 112 and SB 73 and close your letter by asking them to vote for HB 112 and SB 73.

Here’s are some other people’s letters to help inspire you:

Dear Legislators,

I am a current Sex Worker who has lived and worked in Alaska and I am in support of HB 112. I’d like to remain anonymous due to the risk of retaliation and anonymity. Please consider the importance of the bill and do the right thing. Won’t you vote for HB 112? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, “Jane”

Dear Alaskan legislators,

I am writing in support of house bill 112.

My name is Rachel and I had a police officer have sex with me to completion and was going to arrest me afterwards but was unable to because I had not technically broken the law.

Unfortunately because at the time it was not illegal for him to do there was and is nothing I can do about it. This made me feel very violated on many different levels, it also made me not trust the police.

I think it should be illegal for the police to have sex of any kind while a person is under investigation. I am doing this not for myself but trying to help to make sure it does not happen in the future. I have heard many times from many different people about similar situations happening to them.

Please vote yes on house bill 112 to prevent this from happening again.

Thank you in advance,

Dear Alaska legislators,

I am writing in support of house bill 112.

Our state has appalling rates of sexual abuse, child molestation, rape and domestic violence. Sex trafficking contributes to and capitalizes on this violence, yet the law has made sex workers the criminals and used that vulnerability to justify further violation and distrust. This needs to stop.

Police should not be allowed to use their power and position to have sex with sex workers. Period.

Like many women, I am very aware of the short and long-term impact of sexual violence on those who experience it. What police are now allowed to do is exactly the kind of power-based violation and manipulation that has harmed Alaskans across our state.

Please vote yes on house bill 112.

Thank you,

Dawnell Smith

Dear Alaskan Lawmakers,

I’m writing in support of HB 112.

As the founder of SWOP Behind Bars it is my job to advocate on the behalf of vulnerable people who are often abused, discriminated against and all too often exploited by police. As a human being, I find it deplorable to even have to write a letter asking you to make it illegal for a police officer to have sex with prostitutes, victims of crime or witnesses to crime. It is beyond me how this could be happening and yet I know that it does because it happened to me and it has happened to many other people I know.

In a 2010 study in New York*, more than 51% of minors in the sex trade said their number one fear was being raped or abused by a police officer. Our government officials and law enforcement officers have an obligation to protect and serve all of the people they come in contact with and taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable and afraid is not something that should be tolerated by any community. Having your most vulnerable and marginalized community members protected by a law that prohibits this kind of misconduct is what is best for everyone.

Please vote yes on HB 112.

Alex Andrews
Alex Andrews
Co Founder, SWOP Behind Bars

*Meredith Dank, Jennifer Yahner, Kuniko Madden, Isela Bañuelos, Lilly Yu, Andrea Ritchie, Mitchyll Mora, Brendan Conner. Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex.