News Ticker

California Dreaming: Identifying Human Trafficking Problems & Potential Solutions

IMG_3084Reposted with permission by SWOP Philly

 to The ESPLER Project (Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project) and  ESPU (Erotic Service Providers Union) for inviting SWOP-Philly to the 20 October Informational Hearing with the California Assembly Public Safety Committee with the Honorable Bill Quirk, Chair, on Human Trafficking: Identifying the Scope of the Problem and Potential Solutions.

Maxine Doogan, founder of The ESPLER Project and the Erotic Service Providers Union, along with the newly formed Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) Alaska spoke to the panel direct on her position against conflating sex work and sex trafficking. When asked her position on the outcome of the hearing, Ms. Doogan shared with SWOP-Philly:“Testimony clearly shows that police arresting people for prostitution and allowing sexual contact as a legal means to entrap people is counter productive to public safety”.

Hon. Quirk set the goals of the hearing as:

  • The need for the State of California to define ‘trafficking’
  • The need to clearly define trafficking related to ‘labor’, as opposed to  ‘sex’; and
  • Where there is cross-over between these two categories of human trafficking
  • The need for consistent, measurable data in the form of actual numbers

Clarifying at the end of the hearing that California needs data, both quantitative and qualitative, though especially clear, consistent, trackable numbers on arrests, prosecutions and prison sentencing, as opposed to hotline intake calls.

Covered by Fox News 40 Sacramento, California’s Combatting Trafficking and Slavery Alliance reports of 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010 and final 2012 were referenced, though discussion led back to the fact that the facts are few, and the data does not exist separating federal, and county by county / state wide issue,  related to human trafficking, as currently defined by  child, youth,  and adult, sex and labor trafficking, of U.S. born citizens, and foreign nationals.

Robert Sumner, Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice’s Office of Legislative Affairs opened the hearing with interesting discussion on the numbers in question, with a request by Hon. Quirk to follow up with quantifiable data to determine what the actual arrests, prosecutions and need for services is in California, along with determining a point of separation between what is defined as federal, and what is actually related specifically to state.

Other speakers – are seen here via You Tube videos and recent press –  included: Alexandra Lutnik, RTI International, UC Berkeley; and Jerald Mosley, Deputy Attorney General of California (retired), who gave an exceptional testimony discussing how trafficking is measured, problems with criminalization, the reasons for support of decriminalization, the rights of sex workers,  and also for the patrons of sex workers. Mr. Mosley’s position in support of ESPLERP v Gascon is viewable in the July 23 online Reason TV segment, “You Have the Right to Buy and Sell Sex“.

Rachel West of U.S Prostitutes Collective, and UCSF PhD researcher Kate Horton (see video testimony below), offered stellar testimony on the qualitative issues surrounding sex work and sex trafficking.

Also, Stephen Munkelt, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney, Deborah Pembrook, Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Santa Cruz and Montgomery, Stephanie Richard, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Ruth Silver-Taub, South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, who offer a detailed list of “services”, Nilda Valmores, Executive Director of My Sister’s House, whose mission to address Island-Pacific domestic violence,

Public comment was heard by female and male sex workers workers, sex worker and minority allies, and victims in support of decriminalization as a form of an anti-discrimination legislation.

Opposition included the Salvation Army, who took personal photographs in line for comment to the hearing despite personal imagery being against the rules of the room, and the entire event being televised.  When SWOP-Philly discussed services offered by the Salvation Army, it was determined that those seeking assistance must register as  trafficking victims, as opposed to sex workers seeking part time work, or transitional exit strategies and vocational or educational retraining; also most often those in need of temporary or permanent services are given only a lengthy list of resources to call on their own time and phone line.

More advanced follow up on services offered by the Salvation Army in both CA and PA proved that the Salvation Army does not seem to allow sex workers to use Salvation Army drop in centers or computer centers for  employment searches or resumes without registering as a sex trafficking victim (which allows them to be used for statistical purposes for ongoing funding), nor do they confirm interest in hiring former sex trafficking victims or active prostitutes as employees, though they did offer a courtesy referral to the Salvation Army website to search and apply on line if positions were posted. They also stated despite my not being allowed to utilize computer services for job search or community space – which they defined as ‘personal’ –  I may still attend anti trafficking coalition meeting held monthly at the Salvation Army in affiliation with Covenant House.  Interesting since as far as I know, these meetings are open to the public and non profits interested in combatting human trafficking. I personally emailed various offices because Hon. Quirk  referred me  on air to the Salvation Army since I – myself – and defined as a former victim of U.S. domestic minor sex trafficking, and also as a current sex worker who offered testimony. Specifics of my conversation are filed for reference.

Also as additional follow up: SWOP-Philly thanks GALAEI for offering sex worker friendly computer and meeting space at their Philadelphia location in response to community discussion on the lack of sex worker supportive services offered by funded faith based anti trafficking initiatives. Since sex work identified organizations are not able to access anti trafficking funding for respite, computer or employment services.SWOP-Philly is currently accepting  donations for the hourly rental rate of space.

SWOP Philly thanks Hon. Quirk and the Public Safety Committee

for allowing my public testimony

as a former homeless teenager, migrant sex worker,

and affiliate of ESPU, ESPLERP, CUSP and SWOP.


NOTE from the Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Supervising Attorney: SPLC’s position that consensual sex work and forced commercial sex (sex trafficking) should not be conflated. SPLC is a member of the Freedom Network, which has very informative position papers on the subject.You can download them from:


Nothing for US without US

Rights not Rescue


About cjasher (1591 Articles)
C.J. Asher is a blogger on various subject matters and trending topics related to sexuality, such as prostitution, women's rights, sex trafficking and LGBT issues as well as the adult entertainment industry, having interviewed celebrities such as Dennis Hof and Joanna Angel. C.J. currently resides in Philadelphia, PA and his blog can be found at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: