Why Decriminalize?

Too busy to read this whole thing?  Here are some bullet points:

  • We want to live in an Alaska where sex workers and people who are profiled as prostitutes can report being a victim of a crime, like robbery or sex trafficking, without fear of arrest.
  • We want laws that protect us instead of driving us underground, making us vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
  • We want to be able to protect ourselves by working together or communicating with each other without it being called a sex trafficking ring.
  • We want consequences for police who sexually exploit vulnerable sex workers.
  • We want to be able to access housing, employment, child custody, and emergency services without discrimination.
  • We want everyone in Alaska to have access to safe housing, and no one in Alaska to be forced into sex work by poverty or homelessness.

Okay, got a minute?  Keep reading… 

Robert Hansen was allowed to rape, torture, and kill dozens of strippers, prostitutes, and hitch hikers in Alaska over a twelve year period in the seventies and eighties despite several of his victims reporting him to the police. If the Anchorage Police Department had responded appropriately they could have prevented so much pain and death, but instead they chose to disregard and threaten the victims who came to them. In Alaska, and across the country, violent criminals are still given free reign to prey on sex workers.

JulietCurrently at least five prostitutes have been murdered and their bodies dumped in Long Island. Although their disappearances were reported immediately, the police initially refused to investigate. When the discovery of bodies forced an investigation, it was minimal. In a 2011 press conference, LIPD’s chief of detectives implied that there was some sort of karma to prostitutes being murdered “because they’re greedy,” and then laughed at the victims; families.

Because law enforcement arbitrarily decides who is going to be protected – and it’s not prostitutes – they essentially give the green light to serial killers and all kinds of criminals to target us. When we are killed officials say things like, “Some [of the victims] were prostitutes, but perhaps the saddest part of this case is that some were not.”

Access to law enforcement is a basic human right. It is also guaranteed to us under the Alaska Constitution. Laws that promote discrimination and are used to deny basic human rights to whole groups of people should be illegal.

Currently, laws intended to help or protect prostitutes are often used to target them. Prostitutes are not able to report crimes, such as sexual assault, robbery, or sex trafficking. In real sex trafficking investigations, victims are often more afraid of the police than the actual perpetrators. In Alaska, sex trafficking victims who have been raped and tortured have been charged in cases where their perpetrator wasn’t.

Alaska has one of the highest sexual assault rates in the nation and we cannot afford to have a class of people that are basically fair game for violent criminals.

Additional reading:
Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores