Million Kids Predicts Street Prostitution Will be California’s Silent Tsunami
RIVERSIDE — There is a bill making its way through California legislation that will legalize street prostitution in California and allow those previously convicted of prostitution, or related offenses, to have their sentences overturned or dismissed as reported by MillionKids.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating about human trafficking and exploitation.
Million Kids notes that almost no one seems to be aware of SB 357, which has passed the Senate and is in the final stages of a vote in the State Assembly, and the fact that few people are aware of it should get your attention. Million Kids believes this bill will change the very fabric of our society and our children’s future.
SB 357, authored by California Senator Scott Wiener, repeals Sections 653.20, 653.22 and 653.23 of the California Penal Code, which had defined loitering in a public place for the purpose of engaging in street prostitution and made it a misdemeanor. In plain language, Million Kids asserts that by repealing these sections, it makes street prostitution legal and law enforcement would not be able to intervene whether the behavior is on a street or in a car. The bill also authorizes those convicted of a violation of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution to petition the court for the dismissal and sealing of their case. The complete text of the bill can be found on the California Legislative Info website.
According to Million Kids, the bottom line here is that it leaves almost no restrictions in defining prostitution. Additionally, in Nevada, where they legalized prostitution in some counties, there are very strict perimeters. The services are in a specified area, the sex workers get regular testing for disease, and the Health Department has regulations and inspections. Million Kids notes that none of this is true in Senator Wiener’s bill.
Once this bill passes local communities will be changed forever as Million Kids expects that pimps from all over the US (and internationally) will be bringing their sex workers to California because law enforcement will not be able to prevent sex workers from soliciting on the street.
“The impact”, states Million Kids, “is that businesses will suddenly find that their regular customers do not want to deal with the sex selling taking place in front of their establishments. Where there is prostitution there are used condoms and drug needles left behind. Children will be exposed to all forms of illicit sex acts. The online sex ads will direct sex buyers to meet on the street where law enforcement cannot touch them. It could be in front of a convenience store, liquor store, school and even your local church.”
Even more concerning to Million Kids is the wording in SB 357 which allows those already convicted through due process of prostitution related offenses to have their conviction overturned and be released from incarceration. Million Kids asks what about the individuals who have been involved in the control and exploitation of others? What about the many victims or people who cooperated with law enforcement or even testified and now their perpetrator will be released right back to their old neighborhoods?
The argument for legalizing prostitution in California is not new. In a perfect world, Million Kids agrees the government should not belong in the bedroom and if informed, consensual adults choose to make money selling their body, it theoretically should be a private matter. What concerns Million Kids is when exploitation is involved and what allowing sex selling on the streets can mean to local communities.
Opal Singleton Hendershot, Million Kids CEO and President, says, “In 2016 on Fifth Street in San Bernardino, I counted 37 sex workers on one block. Downtown businesses closed as people were afraid to come to that part of town after dark. Since then, law enforcement has worked vigorously to arrest sex buyers and assist victims of trafficking to get out of the life.”
“Having worked in combating human trafficking and social media exploitation for over 12 years, I can tell you it is not a simple issue,” explains Opal. “I have met many young people who fell in love on the Internet or hooked up with a boyfriend that turned out to be a pimp or a gang guy. Sometimes it is a housewife or lonely adult woman who decides to make some money turning tricks. Before long, a guy comes along offering marketing services or a romantic relationship, and it all sounds good. Then the violence and control begins. Suddenly, these women have quotas to make $1,000 a night or they don’t eat, aren’t allowed to sleep, and often beaten, choked, burned, raped and sodomized. The pimp or gang or cartel keeps the money earned by the sex worker.”
Opal continues, “The sex worker very quickly becomes ‘enslaved’ and feels they cannot get free. One of the greatest tragedies is when a teen gets ensnared, and then they become an adult (at age 18), they are so psychologically traumatized they are too terrified to leave. Some make it out of the ‘life’ and unfortunately some don’t.”
“I believe that legalizing street prostitution is not the answer to protecting a sex worker,” added Opal. “Instead, street sex leads to crime, violence, and a deterioration of our communities. It will drive businesses away. It will set a terrible example for our children. If SB 357 passes, street sex will become common place, literally thousands more individuals (mostly women) will be exploited, and California will experience a silent tsunami of prostitution. All in the name of protecting the sex workers.”
According to the California State Legislative website, it appears at this writing that SB 357 is pretty much a done deal. Million Kids is concerned that almost no one realizes the impact, except those who have dedicated their lives to combating sexual exploitation, making this a sad day for the future of California.
- Street Prostitution: Shutterstock