Culture Wars/Current Controversies

San Francisco Leaders Invite Sex & Drug Tourism

City leaders seek legalized prostitution, marijuana tourism, and supervised drug sites

A progressive San Francisco politician is proposing that California legalize sex work. Though Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s proposal is just a resolution, not a mandate, it’s part of a continuing trend in the city and state of liberalization and decriminalization of prostitution.

“I don’t think this is going to happen tomorrow,” Ronen told a journalist. But, she said to another, “I do feel that society’s acceptance and (ability) to get away from the morality issues is growing.”

But if California and San Francisco legalize prostitution, it will likely exacerbate sex trafficking, including of minors, say experts. “If we do that, this gives total leeway to the traffickers to exploit minors,” said Elizabeth Quiroz, who was sex trafficked in San Francisco. “If you legalize it, you increase demand and so you have to increase supply.”

Already, sex trafficking has increased two- to threefold since last June, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation by San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener that removed the criminal prohibition on loitering with the intent to solicit prostitution.

Investigators with Special Operations Finding Kids, who rescued a 14-year-old from her pimp in San Francisco last week, say that the trafficking of minors had been increasing alongside the decrease of police over the last two to three years.

Defenders of legalizing prostitution point to European cities like Berlin as a model. In 2002, Germany defined prostitution as a profession and gave “sex workers” the right to health care, a pension, and unemployment benefits. Arrests for exploiting prostitutes declined from 1,365 to 45 between 2000 and 2014. “The law governing sex trafficking was not modified,” notes an analyst, “yet there were less than half as many trafficking cases in 2014 than in 2000…. The decline may mean that legalization reduced the involvement of bad actors.”

But sex trafficking increased in Germany upon legalization, according to one quantitative study of 150 countries, a correlation that holds for countries across the globe that legalize prostitution. A police detective responsible for investigating and prosecuting human trafficking in Germany said in 2020 that for two decades, there had been a degradation of conditions for prostitutes and a reduction in the state’s ability or willingness to prosecute organized crime and abuse, resulting directly from legalization.


Leave a Reply