Sex workers to protest a presentation at which discredited researcher Melissa Farley is slated to speak
Tuesday, Feb. 11, Bay Area sex workers will protest a San Francisco anti-trafficking panel discussion that critics argue is part of a misguided agenda to further criminalize adults in the sex industry. The San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking, a coalition of government agencies and private organizations, is organizing the panel presentation on prostitution as part of a closing event for Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
According to the event description (listed at the bottom of the group’s homepage), the panel is about “Discouraging Demand” and will “cover new research on demand for prostitution.” Participating is the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program, also known as the “John School,” which is an anti-prostitution court diversion program. Based on these factors, sex worker rights activists said the panel is clearly about further pushing prostitution underground, which only serves to make working conditions for adult sex workers more dangerous.
“Their goal is to disappear the whole sex industry by criminalizing the people that participate in it,” said Maxine Doogan, an organizer with the Erotic Service Providers Union. “Targeting our customers is a flawed approach.”
In a press release announcing the protest, Doogan also criticized the “john” label with this bold statement: “Using the term ‘john’ to describe our clients is like using the N-word. It’s a type of epithet, it’s disrespectful and the city should stop using it immediately.”
She added by phone, “It’s a derogatory means of dehumanizing the customers.”