In 2012 Alaska passed a new sex trafficking law that redefined most things prostitutes do as sex trafficking. The second person to be charged under it was an independent adult sex worker who was charged with trafficking in the fourth degree: “aiding or facilitating” her own prostitution. Shortly after that CUSP advocates tried to help report a man to the police who was threatening Fairbanks sex workers with arrest if they did not pay him $1000, but police and an Assistant Attorney General could or would not give a victim who wanted to make a report immunity from being charged with trafficking herself.
Things that were defined as sex trafficking under the 2012 trafficking law included aiding or facilitating prostitution (including your own, and potentially including harm reduction workers who provide condoms) and having a place of prostitution, including your own prostitution. The first and fourth cases to be charged under the sex trafficking law were against sex workers who were accused of sharing space and information about clients, something that sex workers do to increase their safety. Sex workers who became victims of violent crime became even more reluctant to report it to the police when they had been sharing a hotel room or information with other sex workers, out of fear of being charged with trafficking each other.
A solution was proposed in House Bill 349 and then as an amendment that became Sections 37-40 of Senate Bill 91. When Governor Walker signed SB91 yesterday this section became law, but he immediately put removing sections 39-40 on the agenda for special session, citing concern from a religious group that these sections essentially decriminalized sex trafficking.
Here is the language that was added:
10 (c) A person does not institute, aid, or facilitate prostitution if the person
11 (1) engages in prostitution in violation of AS 11.66.100(a) in a location
12 even if that location is shared with another person; and
13 (2) has not induced or caused another person in that location to engage
14 in prostitution.
(Read the whole bill here: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/29?Hsid=SB0091Z)
This was added to the third and fourth degrees of trafficking (aiding/facilitating and having a place of prostitution) but was not added to trafficking in the second degree (having a prostitution enterprise) or the first degree (forcing people into prostitution or involving minors).
Removing these sections would once again leave sex workers and sex trafficking victims unable to report violent crimes out of fear of being charged with trafficking themselves or each other.