Ex-Hooker Leads Fight to Decriminalize Prostitution in Berkeley

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A former prostitute and sex workers’ advocate is leading an initiative to decriminalize sex for sale in Berkeley, Calif. The campaign, the brainchild of Robyn Few, is the subject of an initiative on the November ballot in Berkeley to direct the city police to treat prostitution as its lowest priority, reports the New York Times. Known as the Angel Initiative, for Angel Lopez, a San Francisco prostitute murdered in 1993, it also instructs city officials to lobby the State Legislature to decriminalize prostitution.

Few, 45, first pitched the idea to state lawmakers and officials in San Francisco and Oakland last year but was turned away. The Berkeley City Council also rejected it, but Few led a petition drive, collecting more than the 2,000 signatures required in Berkeley to qualify for the ballot. Even in ever-open-minded Berkeley, though, the measure has prompted anger and opposition, including among residents worried about crime and city officials frustrated by Berkeley’s reputation for embracing any and all politically novel ideas. Mayor Tom Bates said, “It’s the wrong message to say, ‘Come to Berkeley, we’re wide open.'”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/14/national/14porn.html

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