Instrument of Crime: Condoms, Prostitution, Prosecutors and Public Safety in Pennsylvania Philadelphia Convention Center 106AB Presentation: Friday 10/5/2018 10:45 AM Outlawed in California, New York, and Washington D.C., since 2012 Pennsylvania prosecutors have been using Comstock Act era tactics in an effort to detain prostitutes to combat trafficking. Is charging individuals for Instruments of Crime (IOC) effective policing tactic in ending human trafficking; or is contributing to challenges in addressing important public health risks surrounding HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases? Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are combining forces for important advocacy work to draw attention to these practices.

Advocates for Sex Workers Send Open Letter to Allegheny District Attorney Stephen Zappala Opposing Criminalization of Condom Possession

The letter notes that criminalizing condoms “has a chilling effect on Pittsburghers' willingness to carry and use condoms, especially those who are most vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS and other STIs including women and men of color, LGBTQ people, young people, victims of trafficking, and people in the sex trades.”


Dear District Attorney Zappala

The Sex Worker’s Outreach Project (SWOP) Pittsburgh is disappointed in the District Attorney Zappala’s response to the open letter we and several other organizations (including ACLU of Pennsylvania, Women's Law Project, #SurvivorsAgainstSESTA and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania) opposing several practice that endanger the citizens of Allegheny County: 1.) police and prosecutors’ practice of citing condom possession as evidence of intent to engage in prostitution-related crimes, 2.) police seizure of condoms and other contraceptives, and 3.) the practice of adding the more severe possessing-instrument-of-crime (“PIC”) charges under 18 Pa.C.S. § 907 when defendants are charged with prostitution.

Pa Sen. Bob Casey’s letter for Workers/Survivors to understand the FOSTA/SESTA facts

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio introduced S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, on August 1, 2017. The legislation amends Section 230 to ensure that those who run sites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held accountable for their actions in civil or criminal court. Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri introduced H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on April 3, 2017. This bill imposes criminal penalties on a person who facilitates sex trafficking in interstate commerce.  

Today we trade fear for sanctuary

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Inauguration: Today we start the long road towards empowering and protecting some of our most vulnerable witnesses and survivors: immigrants that lack legal status so that they like other vulnerable groups - young people, elderly people, sex workers - can participate in the criminal justice system that is there to protect them. Today we trade fear for sanctuary. 

Open Letter To Open Society Foundation

The Open Society Public Health Program invites concept forms from civil society organizations and networks that seek to advance the health and human rights of sex workers in Europe. Marginalized by stigma and criminalization, sex workers face enormous obstacles to realizing their human rights, and oppression has led to extreme levels of violence, disease, and exploitation. Justice and health systems routinely fail sex workers, and at times compound their marginalization through harmful law enforcement practices and insurmountable barriers to health care. Sex worker organizing is sometimes vilified, further exacerbating problems related to workplace health and safety. The myriad of health challenges sex workers face cannot be addressed squarely within the health system, and the structural—and often political—determinants of sex worker health extend far beyond health care.

Sexual Health Care for Youth in State Custody

The Center for HIV Law and Policy,  Equality Federation, and Heat: Health Education Alternatives for Teens, invite you to join us for a day organizing to develop an advocacy strategy for policy change on comprehensive sexual health care for LGBTQ youth in state custody.

ESPU-PHILLY Endorses the Consensus Statement on HIV “Treatment as Prevention” in Criminal Law Reform

ESPU-PHILLY Endorses the Consensus Statement on HIV "Treatment as Prevention" in Criminal Law Reform. This is because the two biggest problems with almost all HIV criminal laws and prosecutions are that 1) they focus on HIV disclosure rather than on whether the PLHIV had an intent to do harm; and 2) HIV laws’ felony punishment and severe sentences treat any risk of HIV infection as the equivalent of murder or manslaughter. An April 2017 Pub Med article confirms: - diagnosis rates and laws criminalizing HIV exposure in the United States found no association between HIV or AIDS diagnosis rates and criminal exposure laws across states over time, suggesting that these laws have had no detectable HIV prevention effect.

SWOP Behind Bars Will Be At “Beyond The Walls”

Through panels, presentations, and interactive workshops, the Summit explores innovative approaches to the health and reentry challenges facing our communities, brings relevant policy issues to the forefront, and provides attendees with the opportunity to become involved in local and national advocacy work. With a focus on community led responses to the crisis in the criminal justice system, workshops reflect the needs of prisoners and former prisoners and will highlight the work being done to improve conditions inside the prison walls and in the communities to which prisoners are returning. Registration Required for 6/28/2017

The ESPLER Project Summer Happenings

Status of ESPLERP v Gascon: ORAL ARGUMENTS scheduled for OCTOBER in CALI FEDERAL COURT  We would not be this far along without you! Date  TBD. Administration:We are registered with the California State Attorney General’s Charitable Registry. Ironic, I know!  Folsom Street:We are honored to be selected as a supporting beneficiary by Folsom Street Events for 2017. We … Continue reading The ESPLER Project Summer Happenings

Even Your Healthy Blood Is Not Welcome When You Are A Whore 

The BLOOD DONATION BAN originally installed to prevent HIV, Hepatitis or Syphilis contamination, the vernacular is still intact, though usually considered relative only to “men who have had sex with men” (MSM). However, there is also selective prohibition with respect to anyone who has sex in exchange for money, drugs or other barter since 1977. This is to filter out intravenous drug users, and other high risk candidates who potentially carry communicable disease. Is that you?

PEPFAR 2015 – 2017 

PEPFAR is the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is the aparatus for U.S. funding for global HIV prevention, treatment and care, and disburses ~5-6 Billion USD in global funding annually. In 2003, PEPFAR added an “Anti-prostitution Loyalty Oath” to grantee contracts. The devastating effects of the anti-prostitution oath annihilated agencies that depended on the funding to sustain their operations, and more importantly, excluded vulnerable populations in need. 2017: The oath continues to harm the global fight against HIV and AIDS. U.S. sex worker rights organizations collectively and vehemently oppose the current restrictions. Allied in S/W via SWOP Communication - We recommend the US remove anti prostitution language, and support strategies accepted as best practice in anti-trafficking, women’s development, gender equality, and HIV prevention work.