My name is Jocelyn Foye and I am submitting testimony on behalf of The Womxn Project as their executive director. We are a statewide 501(c)4 advocacy and direct action organization. We are focused on leveraging the power of art, advocacy, and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families, and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
We are proud to speak out for the health, rights and dignity of sex workers who too often are ignored, stigmatized or harmed by our systems. We are reaching out today to express strong support of H5896, which affirms that if a police officer has sex with someone they have arrested or detained, that is sexual assault. The fact is that if someone is in custody they are not able to provide consent.
A police officer has authority over a person they have arrested. This means that a person cannot freely and truly consent to sex. They are under duress and in many cases they are in fear. This is not a place where one can safely agree to sex or should be in such a position. It is coercive and an abuse of power. Simply put, it is assault.
When someone is being held, the state has a responsibility to care for them and keep them safe. Ensuring that no one feels pressured into having sex and making sure that anyone who uses their power in that way is held accountable is truly the least that we can do.
To be clear The Womxn Project supports decriminalizing sex work. Criminalizing sex work does nothing to prevent trafficking and discourages trafficking victims from seeking support from authorities. It does little more than harm survivors of trafficking and those doing consensual sex work as criminal laws are disproportionately used against cis and trans women of color. A good first step would be to support this important legislation. We urge you to vote yes on H5896/S372. Thank you.
Contact: Jocelyn Foye, 401-400-0061, [email protected]