A new bill aims to prevent state law enforcement from arresting sex workers who come forward as a witness or victim of a serious crime.
The crimes include sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking, robbery, assault, kidnapping, threats, blackmail, extortion and burglary. The bill would also prevent law enforcement officers to use possession of condoms as probable cause for arrest for a crime.
Proponents of the measure, SB 233, say sex workers are more likely to experience violence while on the job. But they often do not come forward, fearing it would make them vulnerable to arrest for prostitution.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, who authored the new bill, wants to change that.
"We can either bury our heads in the sand and pretend like sex work is going to go away, which it won't, or we can look at the reality that sex workers exist and we want them to be safe and healthy," Wiener says.