Citing the fact that Governor Jerry Brown has more than a half dozen bills in this last legislative session both to combat human trafficking and decriminalize sex work among minors, several members of the Erotic Service Providers Union of California have a petition they want to deliver in person calling for the decriminalization of sex work altogether in the state. Adult sex workers, they argue, also face dangers in being labeled criminals, and they want to be treated (as adult film performers are) as legitimate workers in the state.
Longtime San Francisco activist, union founder, and sex work advocate Maxine Doogan tells the LA Times, "Our population live in California, and we deserve to be represented, and we want our voices heard. We know that there are lots of pieces of legislation that are proposed and passed on our behalf every year calling us victims or criminals, and in fact, we are legitimate workers."
The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) writes on the petition, "Sex workers report that they face more threats from law enforcement than from clients. Police often threaten sex workers or even rape them in exchange for not sending them to jail." And this claim is well supported by the recent scandal in the East Bay involving Richmond- and Oakland-based sex worker Jasmine Abuslin, a.k.a. Celeste Guap. That case has led to criminal charges being brought against five former Oakland officers, with more to come.
Doogan and three of her fellow union members gathered on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday, as shown above. They also have a court case, ESPLERP v Gascon, that argues that California's ban on prostitution is unconstitutional, and that is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
Doogan previously helped sponsor a local ballot measure in San Francisco to decriminalize sex work, Prop K, which was defeated in 2008 by a margin of 57.6% to 42.4%.