Letter to the Community:
On Monday, March 16, NOW NYC will be coming to Albany to rally in support of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). TVPJA has widespread support from the feminist community, but has raised concerns as it grants more authority to the police and criminal justice system– and at the same time makes no distinction between those involved in human trafficking and others in the sex industry under different circumstances.
I’m writing to ask if any organizations or individuals would be interested in a counter protest on Monday addressing the following issues. I plan on making a fact sheet to distribute as well. I haven’t yet heard back from NOW but it looks like they’ll be arriving at 12:30pm officially beginning a their press conference and lobbying at 1-1:30pm.
TVPJA would allow police to enable wire-tapping where prostitution is suspected; in addition to the conflation of prostitution with human trafficking, as noted by the Sex Workers Project there currently does not appear to be a standard procedure for identifying trafficked persons prior to or following arrest.
Additionally, there would be a sharp increase in penalties for those convicted of trafficking victims which would extend beyond those who coerce people into the sex trade and include people in proximity of sex workers, particularly those under the age of 18.
If one were to give an underage sex worker shelter or even a condom, for instance, they would be subject to arrest.
Lastly, the use of police raids has been proven detrimental to victims of human trafficking. While TVPJA is intended to reduce victimization through the criminal justice system, they would still initially face arrest. In a study by Sex Workers Project, it has been documented that these raids are often violent and frightening, leading to a weakened trust among victims and inability to form a working relationship in order to gain access to services needed.
There is a lot more information on the repercussions of this bill available through the NY Anti-Trafficking Network here: NYATN Files, and Sex Workers Project has a fantastic report on the harm caused by the use of police raids in cases of trafficking: SWP Executive Summary
This is a clear opportunity for intervention, but the harm of “trafficking” interventions is something that needs more discussion in our community, especially as our police have recently said they plan to continue busts upon the recent slew of arrests in January. I’d be more than happy to help form a committee on this issue as much as my work has been related to sex workers’ rights (part of, but more specific than, the conversation on gender & state violence), or work on this in any other way.
For more info or to get involved email: stephaniemkaylor