Current and former Alaskan sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and allies are strongly in support of Senate Bill 21.
Senate Bill 21 would allow people in Alaska’s sex trades who are the victims or witnesses of crimes like murder, sex trafficking, or assault, to make reports to the police without being charged with prostitution. SB 21 is an important step towards enfranchising members of our community into Alaska’s promise of equal protection under the law for everybody and improving public safety by addressing violent criminals who start out by preying on our population.
“Protection from prosecution for prostitution is an important element to the ongoing safety and rights of victims of crimes,” said the sister of an Alaskan sex worker. “This is an important bill that enhances the rights of victims to have honest and forthright relationships with law enforcement. It allows all citizens no matter their access to employment opportunities protection from violent offenders, without fear of repercussion.”
Currently when sex workers are the victims of violent crimes, we do our best to warn each other of the perpetrator. In a recent example in Fairbanks, a woman posted a Backpage ad warning fellow escorts of a man with a gun who had robbed her: http://sextraffickingalaska.com/without-access-to-the-justice-system-we-warn-each-other-of-violent-criminals/ Since the most marginalized of sex workers often do not have access to these warning networks, it is these vulnerable workers who are left to bear the brunt of violent perpetrators not currently addressed by our justice system. It is not consistent with our Alaskan values to allow criminals to target our most vulnerable community members with impunity.
We are asking members of the Senate Judiciary to add a few crimes to the list that people in the sex trade could report without being prosecuted for prostitution: extortion, robbery, coercion, sexual assault of a minor, and child pornography. Extortion is, in our experience, the most common felony committed against us. Crimes like sexual assault of a minor and child pornography, while not a part of our industry, are sometimes learned of by sex workers and it is important that we be able to report them to the police without facing charges ourselves.