Target: Senate President Pro Tempore Darrel Steinberg
Goal: End the use of possession of condoms as evidence in prosecution for prostitution
Prostitution, although ethically questionable, has long been called “the oldest profession.” Regardless of the historical accuracy of that appellation, it is nonetheless a pervasive practice, even where illegal, and it is often the last resort for men and women in desperate circumstances. Condoms are an effective prevention method for STDs and pregnancy, and sex workers must use them to protect themselves. Unfortunately, the possession of condoms by sex workers is often used against them in criminal prosecution, leading many to avoid carrying condoms in the first place.
San Francisco’s District Attorney has already announced that his department will no longer use condoms as evidence in prostitution prosecutions, but the practice remains prevalent across the state. A bill introduced into the California Assembly would change that.
The bill, AB 336, would require prosecutors to show a judge that the presence of condoms is relevant to the case before they can be discussed during a trial. While not perfect, it would be a key first step towards protecting sex workers. The bill has already been approved by the Assembly, and it is now before the State Senate. Please urge Senate President Darrell Steinbergy to see that this important legislation is passed.
Dear State Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg,
I am writing to you to urge that you see to the passage of AB 336. The use of condoms as evidence in prosecution for prostitution charges discourages safe sex practices by sex workers, leading to the spread of communicable diseases. Regardless of whether one believes that prostitution should be legal and regulated, no one can honestly claim that “the world’s oldest profession” can be eradicated, and if it must be illegal, our state’s policies should not discourage those who engage in such practices from protecting themselves and their customers from STDs. This bill would be crucial step towards reforming our state’s law enforcement practices so that those who practice prostitution—by choice, economic necessity, or coercion—will not be forced to choose between protecting themselves and avoiding self-incrimination. I urge that you encourage the California Senate to pass this important legislation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Scott Montreal via Flickr