State Watch

California legislature passes bill to protect sex workers’ rights

California’s state legislature this week sent a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) desk that would protect sex workers who report violent crimes from arrest.

The measure, Senate Bill 233, passed the state Senate, 28-10, in May and passed the state Assembly, 30-9, on Monday.

{mosads}The legislation would grant immunity from arrest to sex workers reporting crimes such as rape, either as victims or witnesses. It would also remove a provision in existing law that allows police to use possession of condoms as probable cause for the arrests of sex work in certain cases.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D), the bill’s sponsor, hailed the passage of the legislation, noting that a 2014 study by the University of California and St. James Infirmary found that 60 percent of sex workers experienced some form of violence.

Specifically, Wiener noted, 32 percent report being physically attacked while working and 29 percent reported being sexually assaulted. The same research found sex workers said 40 percent of interactions with law enforcement after being victimized were negative experiences, he added.

“When a sex worker is scared to come forward and report a crime, the sex worker is less safe, and we are all less safe as a community,” Wiener said in a statement.

“And, carrying condoms to protect one’s health should never be criminalized. I am grateful to my colleagues for acting to protect sex workers’ health and safety,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment on whether he intends to sign the legislation. 

Tags California Gavin Newsom sex workers Sex workers' rights

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