Straight after college, I moved to San Francisco for a kind of internship. It was a place I stayed for as long as it would allow me to afford. San Francisco was an amazing city for a young college boy. That was before there was a surge in crime and homelessness. It’s certainly more entertaining, if not less so, now than it was back then.
California passed Senate Bill 357 to repeal the prohibition on prostitution loitering. It was part of its race to become America’s third-largest state. Senator Scott Wiener (D-11th District), the bill’s creator, believed that cops were targeting trans and women of color disproportionately. According to Fox News, prostitution is on the rise in California cities. Cops claim they cannot help victims of trafficking women and children because they don’t have probable cause to intervene.
The bill’s supporters claim that the law was outdated and criminalized sex workers. Oakland was home to pimps who had access to women outside of a Catholic school. Prostitutes could be seen on the streets of Oakland in different stages of undress, day and night. Some of them appear to be minors. Prostitutes are now flooding L.A.’s Figueroa Street. According to the article
Police stated that prostitution rings are now more powerful than ever and have been involved in robberies as well as shootings, aggravated attacks, and other crimes. They said that many of the pimps are gang-affiliated, and will beat women or pursue rival pimps who attempt to seduce one of their workers. Police said that some even record the beatings because they “think it is funny.”
The Mission District in San Francisco has witnessed a rise in prostitution, to the point where residents feel unsafe. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, one person said, “From my window, I can see three people ganging up against a girl.” “They’ll be hitting on her.” However, the City by the Bay is looking into a possible solution: an officially designated red-light district.
ABC News 7 San Francisco reports that Supervisor Hillary Ronen supports this plan. Santiago Lerma, Aide to the Station, said that she is very concerned about the current situation. We’ve been walking out together with neighbors the last two weekends. Last week we also walked with Assistant chief David Lazar who was also shocked by the scale of the situation.” Lerma said, “What we want is to push our state legislature into legalizing sex trading in California.” This would allow localities the ability to regulate trade and keep people safer. One resident identified as Bertie said there was a problem and that he supports the creation of a red-light area.
It is important to be aware that these people are not trying to live like everyone else. They have health insurance. They are eligible for benefits. It’s smart and smart. It would be great to see this happen here. They are always there. They work hard. It is only fair that they have the chance to work in a better working environment.
No location has yet been proposed for the proposed district. The city plans to put up barricades along one of the problematic streets. This will allow residents access while also preventing traffic from driving through. In a statement, the police department stated that they are aware of the problems of sex workers as well as the possibility of human trafficking in Capp Street. The police department employs strategies to disrupt criminal activity and is compassionate toward those who are forced to enter the sex trade.
The idea would make it safer for residents and legal-age people who are willing to engage in sex trading. However, it is difficult to locate and rescue those who are minors or forced into prostitution. Pimps and gang members don’t always adhere to laws and it is difficult to expect them to respect the boundaries in a red-light area.
What about Ronen’s desire for California to legalize sex? Gavin Newsom would surely be happy to sign such legislation into law. This is not because it will generate revenue through taxes, and licenses, or because it will add another tourist attraction to the Golden State. It is also one more frontier to push. Another way to “lead the nation.” To keep California at the forefront of technology, there is one more thing that must be legalized. While consenting adults will have the right to do whatever they want, it will be possible to exploit the vulnerable and young. San Francisco might benefit from having conversations with ex-sex traders and those who were trafficked or exploited before moving forward.