December 15, 2013
California officials voted Thursday to overturn a discriminatory rule that prevented sex workers who are physically or sexually assaulted from receiving money from a special victim compensation fund intended to help the victims of violent crimes. The change in policy means that sex workers will now be eligible for state assistance to pay for medical and related expenses they incur as a result of the assault.
Members of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board said they were compelled to change the “repugnant” rule after hearing the testimony of sex workers who have been assaulted and left without recourse or support following the crime, simply because of their job. Prior to the change, sex workers who were raped while working were not eligible for compensation because sex work is illegal in California, but the new policy recognizes that “rape is rape, period,” according to board chairwoman Marybel Batjer.
“Victims of this violent crime deserve compensation, regardless of circumstance,” she added.
As the Press Democrat reports, Carol Leigh, a representative of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network, was among the women who testified before the board. Leigh said she was raped by two men who entered the massage parlor where she worked. “[The men] took a knife to my throat and demanded sex and money,” she testified. “I realized that, as a sex worker, I was a sitting duck, that the system, basically, was set up so that I felt that I couldn’t go to the police. … The rapists know, and they see us as targets.”
“I think we sent a big message today from this board for the state of California, that we are now going to mirror some of our other states that feel the same way. It’s a national issue,” Michael Ramos, district attorney in San Bernardino County, said following the vote.
“It really opens the way for women who have suffered a very violent and traumatic act to get recognition from the state that something terrible happened and that you can get compensated for it,” Rachel West, of the U.S. PROStitutes Collective, said of the change.
But the fight for sex workers’ rights in California and elsewhere continues, said Maxine Doogan, an organizer for the Erotic Service Providers Union. “We would like the state of California to adopt the Obama administration policy on prostitution, which is that prostitution should not be discriminated against in seeking public services.”
Hempstead Independent School District (ISD) in Texas has confirmed that a middle school principal has been placed on leave after Hispanic students said that she forbid the entire school from speaking Spanish.
A group of students told KHOU that Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey announced over the intercom on Nov. 12 that they were no longer to use their native language in order to “prevent disruptions.”
It was over two weeks later before the superintendent sent a letter home insisting that “neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish.”
But the students said that the effect of the ban had been chilling.
“People don’t want to speak it no more, and they don’t want to get caught speaking it because they’re going to get in trouble,” sixth-grade student Kiara Lozano explained to KHOU.
Some students felt that the principal gave teachers permission to discriminate against them.
“She was like no speaking Spanish,” eighth-grader Yedhany Gallegos recalled. “I was like that’s my first language. She said, well you can get out.”
I grew up in a border town in Texas where almost half of the kids in my class lived in Mexico, & I had multiple grade school teachers who also banned speaking Spanish in the classroom. This discrimination happens all too often in many schools & it just absolutely cripples the student’s ability to learn.
I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg on NYPD’s Stop & Frisk program.
LOL, okay. Some stats:
- From 2002 to 2011, black and Latino residents made up close to 90 percent of people stopped.
- About 88 percent of stops – more than 3.8 million – were of innocent New Yorkers.
- Even in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, black and Latino New Yorkers face the disproportionate brunt. For example, in 2011, Black and Latino New Yorkers made up 24 percent of the population in Park Slope, but 79 percent of stops.
- In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
- 473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).
- 284,229 were black (55 percent).
- 165,140 were Latino (32 percent).
- 50,366 were white (10 percent).