Reposted with permission by SWOP Philly
The Hon. Cris Dush
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Dush,
Our organization applauds the efforts of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to eliminate sex trafficking in this state. However, we cannot support HB 262 in its current form because it contains several stipulations that we feel are unnecessarily burdensome to those employed at adult establishments and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.
It is our belief that these provisions, however well intentioned they may be, constitute unnecessarily infringe on the privacy of these workers and could theoretically compromise their safety. We refer specifically to portions of Section Four.
The requirement that an employee of an adult establishment register with the state is a matter of concern. Specifically, the provision that the employee’s name be entered in to a registry, one that would include their personal information and photograph.
This requirement has a number of repercussions for the worker. It has the potential to expose their personal information to unnecessary, and potentially dangerous scrutiny. While the registry may be exempt from Freedom of Information Act inquiries the distinct possibility remains that individuals will gain access to the information it contains who should not have that access. This group would include lenders or potential employers and could prove disadvantageous to the worker if they were applying for a job or credit, or involved in a legal matter
But it might also include individuals who might put the worker’s safety at risk. All of us have concerns about our personal information being accessed by unauthorized individuals. But this concern is particularly acute for commercial sex workers and others employed at adult establishments because of the nature of the industry. It is for this reason that the overwhelming majority of those who are employed in the industry work under names other than their own. They are not seeking to evade their personal and legal responsibilities but rather protect their privacy and safety.
The other provision we would like to address stipulates that anyone patronizing an adult establishment has the legal responsibility to notify authorities if he has reason to believe that the establishment or an employee he may interact with is involved in trafficking.
This mandate would force customers to perhaps make decisions and judgments they are not qualified to make. The visitor to an adult establishment is not a trained criminal investigator and their interpretation of a situation or circumstance might well be erroneous and could cause harm to innocent individuals. In addition it might expose the patron themselves to legal action.
We respectfully request that you take our concerns into account and that HB 262 be tabled or else amended to address these concern. Again, we applaud your efforts to eliminate sex trafficking in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) PHILLY