|Woodhull’s Executive Director Ricci Levy and Policy Advocate Elisabeth Fernandez-Kimmel both offered verbal testimony against Bill 19-567, the Prostitution Free Zone Amendment Act of 2011, at a hearing on January 24, before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee. Also testifying against the bill were the local ACLU, GLAA, DC Trans Coalition, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, Best Practices Policy Project, and Human Rights Watch, as well as the Public Defender and the Metro police.The “Prostitution Free Zone Amendment Act” will affect sex workers, or anyone thought to be a sex worker. You don’t have to be guilty of a crime – just THOUGHT to be guilty. This new bill builds off the “Prostituton Free Zone Act of 2005,” which allowed the police to declare any public area a “Prostitution free Zone,” for up to 20 days -the new bill proposes to make these zones permanent.
These policies have done little to eradicate prostitution succeeding only in further marginalizing sex workers, low income people of color, transgender people, lesbians and gays, and the homeless. This is a violation of DC’s own human rights policies and of the US Constitution. Further, we believe that this legislation flies in the face of the United States’ commitment to the United Nations with regard to sex worker rights.
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance recently participated in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva, Switzerland where we and our allies were successful in having the United States fully accept Recommendation #86, which called on the US to look into the special vulnerability of sex workers to violence and human rights abuses.
We reminded the District of Columbia Council that the United States fully accepted UPR recommendation #86 and, in the report released to the United Nations, the U.S. states “We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution, as recommendation [#86] suggests”.
Recommendation #86 is significant because this is the first time the United States accepted that sex workers’ rights are a different issue from human trafficking victims and that sex workers’ rights are human rights and we asked each Councilmember to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to refuse to further perpetuate the human rights violations of which DC is guilty in the establishment of Prostitution Free Zones by voting against Bill 19-567.
Testimony can be submitted for another two weeks and no final vote has been scheduled. You can still let Washington, DC know we want them to vote against this piece of legislation by signing this petition.