BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POSTMEDIA NEWS APRIL 2, 2012
A controversial bill that would allow the city’s police chief to set up permanent prostitution-free zones will be taken up this morning by the D.C. Council. The bill lets police detain and arrest people suspected of engaging in street prostitution. Some of city’s gay activists are planning to fight the measure.
Transgender rights activists say the proposal to establish permanent prostitution free zones in the District is a thinly veiled attempt to drive transgendered women out of neighborhoods, regardless of whether they are sex workers or not. Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department can only set up a temporary zone that lasts 10 days.
Activists made a video this week to raise awareness of the bill and are planning to fight the legislation. Rubi Corrado is one of those activists. “These police officers are going ot have to make a choice, to address and arrest young individuals that are on the street trying to survive, or addressing real criminals, seasoned criminals,” Corrado said.
Yvette Alexander, the Ward 7 Council member who authored the bill, says prostitution is running rampant in some neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
“We’re thinking either you make a decision, if there are going to be these prostitution free zones, then that’s my cue that I need to get out of the prostitution business,” Alexander said.
Some Council members believe the measure may be unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down anti-loitering laws.
Yesterday was the culmination of a pretty amazing journey for me. I sat in the front row at the Supreme Court of Canada as the as the federal government tried to persuade the country’s top court that Sheri Kiselbach, a former sex worker with 30 years of experience and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), a non-profit organization run by and for street-based sex workers in the Downtown Eastside, do not have standing to challenge the laws related to adult prostitution because they are not directly affected. Among the people sitting with me wereSheri and DJ. DJ is a member of SWUAV and has been involved with Pivot since we first started looking at the issue of sex workers’ safety ten years ago.
Greg MacDougall interviews sex workers rights advocates at the 2011 Women’s World conference. Interview with Chris Bruckert, Frédérique Chabot and Tuulia Law — of POWER, Students for Sex Worker Rights, and Sex Professionals of Canada. At Women’s Worlds 2011 conference in Ottawa, July 7. http://womensworlds.ca
Protest draws attention to recent violence against prostitutes
Ottawa-based sex workers and their allies called for an end to prostitution sweeps Saturday during a protest held on Parliament Hill.
About 50 people participated in the protest, which took place just more than a week after Ottawa police chief Vern White issued an unprecedented public safety warning to women after police investigators discovered a pattern in homicides among city prostitutes.