This is a time when we all must respond to this virus to protect each other.   For this reason, we have suspended all "face to face" meetings of SWA.   We will be installing virtual/phone meetings however until this crisis passes.    If you would like information on attending these phone/online meetings, reach out to us at sexworkersanonymous@protonmail.com

However, you need to understand one of the main reasons we ever started this hotline, and 12 step program WAS BECAUSE OF A VIRUS.  Back in 1986, the AIDS virus was ripping through the country, and at that time no one even knew how it was contracted.  What did know was that many sex workers were a high risk because of having sexual contact with their clients.  This created a HUGE program on behalf of law enforcement who used to do things like go out on weekly "raids" where they would just grab whole bus loads full of men and women and charge them with prostitution. 

Suddenly, the police didn't want to arrest anyone suspected of prostitution, nor did the judges want them in the courtroom, and even the guards at the jails didn't want to go near them either.  I was there at ground zero then, and very fortunate to have men like then Mayor Tom Bradley as mayor of Los Angeles who knew that if we tried to go at this virus the "traditional" way, we'd never get through the red tape, and people would die.    He also knew that the price directive was that we had to suspend all criminalization of prostitution, and also stop holding tools of protection against them like condoms.    A pandemic back then didn't stop people from having to eat.  Especially since most who are in prostitution to begin with don't have unemployment, savings, etc., so they can't just "stop working". 

What made things even more complicated back then was the discussion of a law that was being passed to "round up and quarantine" anyone who was at "high risk", which included IV drug users, homosexuals and of course prostitutes, and all sexworkers (yes porn and stripping was included here).  I personally was terrified of this because we didn't have the internet or cell phones back in 1986, and to me - being sent to some "island" somewhere just meant we'd wind up disappeared. 

I knew that if this law took effect, that it would just drive those infected even deeper underground.  So my task was to convince law makers, law enforcement, etc., that this was NOT the way to address this problem.  One huge problem however was of course that prostitution was illegal everywhere but a few counties in Nevada in the USA.  Some police departments, even courts, have their whole budget relying around the arresting of prostitutes.  There are mandatory jail requirements on some of these sentences also like for a second arrest.   While I had the courts agreeing they WANTED to stop arresting prostitutes - we had the problem of the fact that law REQUIRED IT. 

So what did we do?  Well that was one of the reasons we created a 12 step program.    it was that, or find some doctor who had a million dollars laying around who wanted to set up a treatment program.   That wasn't going to happen then or now, so we could model what Narcotics Anonymous did when they set up drug court - we could set up a 12 step program where the person who was arrested could ask the judge to come to our program instead of jail.  Problem solved. 

Sortof.  There were still some cases where many of the prostitutes were involved in other cases where law enforcement was still gathering evidence.  We found out that because of laws grandfathered in by AA and NA, that all calls to the hotline, and anything said within our meetings, or to a sponsor was considered as "privileged" and protected as anything you would tell an attorney, priest or doctor.  This allowed us to keep undercover police out of our meetings.  If they couldn't use the evidence they gathered in our meetings, why bother?  This allowed us to meet and talk to each other without fear of any "conspiracy" charges, as well as to pass the basket without our groups being charged wtih "accepting money from  a prostitute". 

Over the last 10 years, there's been a push by law enforcement to push prostitutes out of our groups, and into groups where they can use evidence gathered against them in court.  Even the National Trafficking Hotline has admitted they can't offer protected communications to those who go on their site, or call their hotline. 

Now this has created a problem in that yes the for profit prisons are meeting their quotas of bodies in the beds - but right now they might not want that so much.  If you, or someone you know, is facing jail or prison, or wants out of being incarcerated - then please have your attorney contact us.  We can arrange for diversion, or even "house arrest" if you attend our meetings.  We have arranged re-entry as well as early release.  Every situation is different.  So whatever you're facing, if you don't want to risk exposure to the virus by going into jails/prisons - then please have your attorney contact us and we'll work something out.  The judge generally can't refuse you this option under your 14th amendment rights by the way. 

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