Tag: policing

UN Update: Stop Arresting Sex Workers under the guise of ending trafficking



On Monday, March 10th, the US Human Rights Network Working Group, a national network that includes BPPP and SWOP-Phoenix, delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. The statement called for the US to end criminalizing approaches to sex work and trafficking in the US. Specifically the groups requested that the US Justice Department to remove criminalization of sex work from current Model State Criminal Provisions that were ostensibly designed to stop trafficking, but that call for arrest and jail sentences for people doing sex work. Beginning Thursday, the Committee will review the U.S.’s adherence to its human rights obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. SWOP-PHX and BPPP submitted a joint report to the Committee showing how the U.S. violates civil rights of sex workers and people profiled by police as sex work, under anti-sex work initiatives.

Questionable Practices: Arresting people “for their own good” violates social work ethics

Stephanie Wahab and Meg Panichelli provide a succinct analysis of the ethical considerations associated with diversion programs that arrest people in the sex trade in order to force them to accept services. Their commentary which appears in a 2013 edition of AFFILIA, a peer reviewed social work journal addressing the concerns of social workers and their clients from a feminist point of view, challenges the “assumption that arresting (or participating in the arrest of) people ‘for their own good’ constitutes good or ethical social work practice.” The authors conclude that, “targeting people for arrest under the guise of helping them violates numerous ethical standards as well as the humanity of people engaged in the sex industry” and express concerns that such an approach “constitutes an act of structural violence against individuals who already frequently report negative, discriminatory, and often violent encounters with law enforcement including people with precarious migratory or citizenship status, poor, youth, transgender, and people of color.”

The example that sparked the writing of the AFFILIA editorial is Project ROSE, a program in which social workers from Arizona State University  School of Social Work and some service providers collaborate with city wide raids orchestrated by the Phoenix Police Department.

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Phoenix responds to Project ROSE’s police raids

Phoenix advocates used these and similar signs during public protests against a rights violating diversion program.

PHOENIX, AZ – Sex workers and allies protested yesterday October 17, 2013 outside Bethany Bible Church, the site of the Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative. Twice a year the Phoenix Police and the ASU School of Social Work team up to arrest people working in the sex trade. People who are arrested and found to be “eligible” for services are forced to choose between a 6-month diversion program and criminal charges. Many arrested during the stings are not eligible for the diversion process at all and face incarceration under Arizona’s mandatory minimum statutes.

“Project ROSE coordinators claim this program offers voluntary diversion,” Jaclyn Moskal-Dairman of Phoenix SWOP, an organization of sex workers and allies fighting for the rights of sex workers, explained. “But when our own members are arrested and taken to court, we know better. This program doesn’t make people safer, it creates fear and trauma. The raids rely on coercion, and result in more people behind bars for working.”

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Making history for sex workers’ health and rights

Grassroots, long-term, coalition work gets the job done — the New York State General Assembly passed the No Condoms as Evidence bill yesterday. Here’s the press release from the coalition:


Anti-Trafficking Advocates, Women’s Groups, LGBTQ Organizations, Public Health Advocates And Civil Rights Groups Hail Passage of Critical Public Health Measure and Urge Senate to Take Action.

FRIDAY, June 20, 2013 (NEW YORK) – Today the New York State Assembly passed A2736, known as the “No Condoms as Evidence” bill, sponsored by Queens Assembly Member Barbara Clark.

“Today’s action by the New York State Assembly brings us one step closer to making history as the first state in the country to enact legislation that prohibits police and prosecutors from confiscating and introducing condoms as evidence of intent to engage in prostitution-related offenses,” said Andrea Ritchie on behalf of the No Condoms as Evidence Coalition, made up of over 70 organizations advocating for the bill’s passage. “We want to extend our sincere thanks to Assembly Member Barbara Clark and Speaker Sheldon Silver for showing leadership in putting public health first. We call on New York State Senators who care about public health, sex trafficking, stop and frisk, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and human and civil rights to follow suit after the session break.”

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