September 6, 2008

Why Prostitution Free Zone is Dangerous

There are many reasons we believe that the reinstatement of Prostitution Free Zone is a bad idea. But the basic point is that PFZ is dangerous for our most vulnerable neighbors, the women and men who work on the streets. Here are some of the reasons:

1) PFZ does not stop prostitution, but displaces it onto less populated or traveled areas. Women and men working there will be more isolated, and in less familiar turf. These factors increases the very real and already heightened risk of violence against them.

2) PFZ deprives them of life-saving and life-sustaining social services that are located in the 82nd area. True, "variances" were issued to allow excluded individuals to enter PFZ in order to receive services, but the rules were prohibitively restrictive. In addition, it makes it harder for outreach workers to locate them if they are dispersed away from busy areas.

3) When someone violates the exclusion order, she or he will face a criminal trespass charge. It may function to trap someone in prostitution, because each additional criminal record diminishes one's chance of leaving prostitution and obtaining "legitimate" jobs.

4) In case anyone still cares about the constitutional guarantee of civil liberties, PFZ violates our civil liberties. It grants police officers the power to "excluded" someone from large portions of the City before she or he is convicted of any crimes. Yes, there is an appeal process, but this being a civil exclusion you do not have the same rights and guarantees that criminal defendants have, such as the right to an attorney, due process, jury by peers, presumption of innocence, or beyond reasonable doubt standard.

No comments: