Earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 357, a bill to decriminalize loitering for the purposes of prostitution, and even though the law doesn’t take effect until next year, California communities are already experiencing the dangerous consequences.
Oakland residents are complaining that pimps are boldly selling scantily-clad women in their neighborhoods in broad daylight to men clogging their streets in their slowly moving cars. The East 15th Street neighborhood in particular is calling on city leaders to take action and protect their families.
A report from KPIX-TV showed young women, many of whom are sex trafficking victims, walking through a neighborhood in broad daylight soliciting customers while a life-long resident pushes her child in a stroller.
The resident said she was scared that her young children were being exposed to inappropriate activity that is creating an unsafe community. Ironically, Sen. Wiener titled SB 357 the Safer Streets for All Act.
Other residents are fleeing the area. “I moved out because I didn’t want to raise a family in this environment, but a lot of neighbors tell me they can’t afford to move, so their only hope is that city leaders will stop this problem,” said CBS reporter Ka Lin.
A similar problem is happening in National City near the San Diego Naval Base. According to CBS 8, National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis sent a letter to Governor Newsom complaining about the explosion of prostitution at all hours of the day in her city as a result of SB 357.
“Because it’s already signed, law enforcement’s hands are already tied. But it’s also the boldness in the summertime. The human trafficked and the johns are already taking advantage of it,” Sotelo-Solis told CBS 8 News. “They’re working from 10 in the morning to the lunchtime hour to right when work gets out and it’s frustrating. It’s not so much, ‘Hey, we can’t do anything.’ It’s more of, ‘Now what are we supposed to do?’ And people are getting more bold.”
“Even driving home myself, when I see a scantily clad woman, literally pasties and a thong, I can only imagine what that person is feeling,” said Sotelo-Solis.
Newsom and the legislature’s decision to roll back prostitution restrictions is endangering families and enabling human trafficking. The Department of Justice reports that prostitution and sex trafficking of women have “an intimate relationship,” as the two are “fundamentally interrelated.” As legalized prostitution expands, so too does human trafficking.
Last year, California Family Council joined a group of sex trafficking survivors, anti-trafficking and family-values organizations and urged Newsom to reject SB 357. The coalition argued that decriminalizing prostitution would give “buyers, traffickers, and pimps the freedom to troll the community for women and children to victimize without fear of consequence.”
Keeping prostitution illegal “gets trafficking victims off the street and away from the individuals that hold them captive or take advantage of them,” wrote Senate Republican Minority Leader Scott Wilk.
The coalition pointed out that the Oakland Police Department arrested 68 traffickers and exploiters in 2021 using the law that prohibited loitering for prostitution. During the first nine months of 2021, nine children were rescued thanks to that law. Now that this law has been rolled back, those rescues would be much more difficult.
Laws like this are fundamentally anti-family, and California residents will continue to watch their communities become more and more dangerous for their children as long as SB 357 remains in place.
At the very least, families in California should be able to raise their children in a safe environment, in neighborhoods that aren’t being turned into open sex markets. Instead, they are watching sex trafficking victims bought by callous men on streets full of children trying to play. If this was happening in the Newsoms’ neighborhood or on the streets where legislators live, they wouldn’t put up with it. Yet open prostitution is allowed to take over California’s poor neighborhood because SB 357 has tied the hands of the police.
It’s crucial that Californians make their voices heard this November. California families deserve better.