In California, a recent change in the law regarding sex workers has sparked controversy and concerns.
Law Change Sparks Concerns
Last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 357, which made it harder for the police to arrest people for loitering with the intent of prostitution.
The aim was to address the disproportionate harassment of women. Still, since the law came into effect, the city with the imaginative name of National City has seen a notable increase in visible sex workers, causing concerns for businesses and the community.
Brothel on the Streets
As the law’s consequences begin to unfold, National City’s mayor, Ron Morrison, has voiced his worries about how the city’s streets have become a backdrop for sex workers, even during the daytime.
While the new law seeks to address the fair treatment of individuals, its impact on the city has raised concerns and caused controversy.
No Legalization, No Clothes
Mayor Morrison emphasized that this law does not legalize prostitution but modifies the provisions that previously led to the disproportionate harassment of women.
However, since Senate Bill 357 went into effect, National City has seen a significant increase in the presence of sex workers in public spaces, even during the daytime. These individuals, many of whom are scantily clad, have become a visible presence in the city, sometimes engaging in provocative behavior by the freeway.
Tourists Turned Off
These developments have raised concerns about the impact on the local community and businesses. Some reports suggest that hotel guests have canceled their stays after encountering sex workers nearby, affecting the local hospitality industry.
Sex Alongside Education
Mayor Morrison even shared pictures of sex workers near a charter school, raising concerns about children’s exposure to such activities.
Indecent Exposure Laws
One issue that Mayor Morrison highlighted is the difficulty of addressing this situation through indecent exposure laws. In California, the definition of indecent exposure hinges on whether the genitals are covered, leaving many other forms of exposure unaddressed.
As a result, even individuals wearing extremely revealing attire may not be in violation of indecent exposure laws. These legal limitations have frustrated residents and local authorities, as they find it challenging to address the public display of sexually suggestive behavior.
Wrong Business Is Booming
The concerns raised by Mayor Morrison are not limited to moral objections but primarily focus on the effects on public spaces and businesses.
Mayor Morrison also expressed concerns that the relaxed law might hinder the efforts to rescue victims of sex trafficking.
Sex Trafficking Concerns
Historically, police have often discovered that those involved in street prostitution were either minors or victims of sex trafficking. The ability to intervene and help these individuals was an essential aspect of law enforcement efforts.
However, with the changes in the law, police may now have fewer legal avenues to communicate with potential victims. This shift in the legal framework could hinder the ability to identify and rescue individuals who may be in vulnerable situations.
While the changes in the law have raised various concerns, city officials have not remained passive. They have initiated sex sting operations to arrest and cite sex workers. However, these operations require time and planning, and the results are not always immediate.
Whose Rights Matter?
The aim is to address the growing concerns related to the increase in public displays of sex work and their potential consequences.
City authorities are working to strike a balance between addressing the concerns of residents and maintaining the rights and safety of individuals involved in sex work.
The news has led to a lot of debate online, with some arguing in favor of sex workers. One commentator online said, “Learn from more progressive countries where legalized prostitution has basically eliminated crime and associated costs, like health care, with sex workers.”
Others argue strongly against the changes to the law and the disruption they see it as having caused. One commenter posted, “Is this what civilized society has become?” with another responding, “This is what you get when your state is run by Democrats.”
Sex Workers for Congress
However, some online chose to see the funnier side of the whole situation, with one user stating, “Put them in congress they can’t do any worse than the morons in there now!” Another user joked, “They could be Influencers!”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Koca Vehbi