Oakland has endorsed an initiative that would wage war on sex workers of our area. ‘CEASE Network’ is a project of Demand Abolition, a Boston-based platform dedicated dismantling the illegal sex trade from the inside. The philosophy of Demand Abolition and CEASE is that the best way to stop both child trafficking and prostitution is to deter people from purchasing sex of any kind. San Francisco Department on the Status of Women was part of a collaborative that accepted an $80,000 Hunt Alternatives grant, to participate in the national initiative that eventually became CEASE.Their main method of sex abolition is to attack the marketplace resources such as Backpage.com, myredbook.com(which has been seized by the FBI), enforcing court-ordered classes, shutting down venues, collecting buyer data by using plate readers and implementing a local billboard public awareness campaign.
That’s right Bay people, those nauseating billboards, attacking sex and attempting to “abolish” the sex trade are from CEASE and they are sitting around with plate readers, reporting anyone they suspect, like a modern day witch hunt.(Complaints should be directed to the Demand Abolition organization here.) Many locals find the message of hate and the violent color scheme appalling and have taken to redecorating them where they appear(see photo). This many faced organization is backed by large capital, making wasteful and frivolous acts like the billboards possible. Alameda County receives roughly $40,000 annually from Demand Abolition which makes them a force to be reckoned with. Their type of “increased enforcement” makes it much harder for sex workers to seek help from police when they actually need it — if a client assaults or rapes them, for example.
However, local Californians don’t seem to appreciate the organizations’ appeal to our morality. “The result is arguments against what are seen as threats to safety and well-being: criminalization; stigma; and treating sex workers as if, uniformly, they are victims and have no agency, which reinforces the paternalism with which they are treated and allows prohibitionists to displace them in public discourse.” –Peter Schafer. In other words, the county is treating all sex workers as if they are children and not consenting adults and farther marginalizing an already outcast society.
“ESPLERP has filed a complaint with the United States District Court challenging California’s current anti-prostitution law, Penal Code 647(b) on the following grounds:
• These laws deprive individuals of the fundamental right to engage in consensual, private sexual activity.
• These laws deny individuals the right to choose for themselves how to earn a living and who to enter into a contract with.
• These laws limit how and with whom an individual can associate in private.
• Enforcement of these laws discourages safe sex because the possession of condoms is used as evidence by prosecutors.
• California has failed to provide a legitimate rational to continue denying individuals the right of free speech, the right to earn a living, and the right to freely associate.
• The Penal Code is so vaguely worded that it criminalizes the mere discussion of paying for erotic services between consenting adults.
The complaint has been filed against California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris and the District Attorneys of the City and County of San Francisco; Marin, Alameda, and Sonoma counties.” According to ESPLERP’s webpage.
The war the county is attempting on the sex trade resembles that of the war on drugs, no one will win and a great waste of resources will occur. The increased attacks on the sex trade will only push a marginalized population farther underground. Time will tell if the newest initiatives will have a lasting impact on the culture of our area.