Berkeley To Vote On Decriminalizing Prostitution

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A former high-end call girl is lobbying voters to approve a measure to decriminalize prostitution in Berkeley, Ca., reports Women’s eNews. The measure wouldn’t make sex-for-hire legal. Rather, it would direct the police department to make prostitution the city’s lowest criminal priority along with marijuana arrests. Robyn Few, the former prostitute who spearheaded the measure on the Nov. 2 ballot, says, “We want to show the state that Berkeley believes that prostitution should be decriminalized to save the lives of women and to end discrimination against women.” Few, 45, and the backers of “Angel’s Initiative,” named after a prostitute who was murdered in San Francisco in 1993, say decriminalizing the world’s oldest profession would alleviate violence against women, improve public health for prostitutes who are too afraid or too embarrassed to go to a doctor, and help prostitutes transition out off street work.

An estimated 2,000 prostitutes are murdered in the U.S. every year. Homicide is the number one cause of death among street-walkers, experts say. They are also vulnerable targets for rape and robbery. Angel’s Initiative will mean “equal protection under the law and safe streets for everyone,” backers of the measure say. The Berkeley proposition is opposed by city leaders and community activists. Opponents call the measure a simplistic approach to a complicated problem. They argue that the measure does nothing more than ask police and community leaders to look the other way. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” won’t solve anything, they claim. These foes say shelter workers and drug counselors already report girls as young as 12 entering into the trade sex. Decriminalization will increase the chances of child prostitutes, they say. Berkeley police are also against decriminalization of the sex trade. Berkeley’s lower-income areas will see increased crime and possibly more assaults, thefts, robberies and batteries, said spokesperson Joe Okies.

Link: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm?aid=2005

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