September 5, 2008

The Fundamental Point: It's About Justice, Not Law Enforcement

The fundamental point we disagree with our neighbors who are calling for the reinstatement of Prostitution Free Zone or harsher policing/prosecution of prostitution-related "crimes" is that we do not believe that what's happening in the 82nd Avenue area is a law enforcement problem. Rather, we believe that it is an issue of social and economic justice.

How so? Well, let's look at what women (and men, and people of other genders) working on the street are facing: lack of affordable housing, lack of good-paying employment opportunities for less skilled or educated workers, lack of childcare for mothers who work (which also limits their employment options), lack of treatment services for substance use or for mental health, etc.... The list goes on. These are the fundamental problems we face in our communities, and we cannot police and criminalize our way out of it.

And speaking of criminalization: it should be obvious to anyone that having criminal records prevents one from obtaining "legitimate" jobs, even lowly-paid, mundane ones like working for fast-food restaurants, so it creates further burden on women hoping to stop working on the street. Once again, it shows that further criminalization is not the solution, but social and economic justice is.

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