Shame on sponsors of event promoting criminalization of sex workers & clients

To whom it may concern,

  I am writing to speak out against an upcoming event ("Candlelight Vigil Against Trafficking") that is being held to promote the criminalization of sex workers or their clients under the guise of opposing forced trafficking.

  A spokesperson for the sponsoring group, Soroptimist International, has apparently claimed that they do not take a position on whether or not prostitution should be legal. Unfortunately, the group's actions say otherwise. According to the FAQ on their website,

"One reason for the proliferation of sex trafficking is because in many parts of the world there is little to no perceived stigma to purchasing sexual favors for money, and prostitution is viewed as a victimless crime. Because women are culturally and socially devalued in so many societies, there is little conflict with the purchasing of women and girls for sexual services. Further, few realize the explicit connection between the commercial sex trade, and the trafficking of women and girls and the illegal slave trade. In western society in particular, there is a commonly held perception that women choose to enter into the commercial sex trade. However, for the majority of women in the sex trade, and specifically in the case of trafficked women and girls who are coerced or forced into servitude, this is simply not the case."

  The clear implication is that Soroptimist believes in maintaining or increasing the stigma against sex workers and their clients, by maintaining or increasing criminalization, in order to reduce forced trafficking. (In fact the effect is just the opposite -- criminalization of prostitutes and clients creates a black market, artificially inflates prices, and attracts violence, coercion, and unsavory criminal elements, just as occurs with the criminalization of drug sellers and users and the criminalization of immigrants!)

  Furthermore I am told the keynote speaker for this upcoming "vigil" represents a specifically anti-prostitution organization and is part of a network (CATW) that defines all prostitution as forced. And this event comes at a time when "trafficking" is being used by government authorities as a fig leaf for attempts to crack down on the ordinary, voluntary exchange of sexual services for money.

  I strongly suspect that Soroptimist is well aware of what it is doing, and that any claims it may make about this event not being about criminalizing people are disingenuous.

  However it is possible that the SF Women's Film Festival has signed on in good faith without being aware of the underlying agenda. Therefore I strongly urge the Film Festival to immediately dissociate itself from the event and not allow its good name to be tarnished by association with the promoters of a judgmental, moralizing, anti-sexuality, and anti-choice mindset.

        ((( starchild )))
      sex worker by CHOICE