A quick reading of the measure that will go before San Francisco voters in November to decriminalize prostitution easily could leave you with the misimpression that the measure is an exercise in fairness that demands that prosecutors go after men who abuse prostitutes and implement policies "to reduce institutional violence and discrimination against prostitutes." A careful reading of the initiative, "Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers," however, shows a measure that shields child prostitution and traffickers of human beings.
"If I had just heard from the proponents, I would probably vote for it myself," said the Rev. Glenda Hope, whose San Francisco Network Ministries helped found the Tenderloin AIDS Resource, in the mistaken belief the measure is meant "to protect women." But as the executive director of SafeHouse, a residential center that helps women get off the streets, Hope knows too much.
Hope knows that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14. The office of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who opposes the initiative, has encountered prostituted children as young as 9 years old.
Yet the San Francisco ballot measure completely ignores the prostitution of children. The measure simply states, "Law enforcement agencies shall not allocate any resources for the investigation and prosecution of prostitutes for prostitution." Astonishingly, there's no exemption that encourages police to enforce the law for minors.
If the measure passes, the city is likely to become an international haven for pimps who peddle girls and boys, and perverts seeking sex with minors.
And where does that leave Bay Area youth? "They want new and young," Jasmine, a former teen prostitute from Oakland who now volunteers for the nonprofit SAGE Project, which fights sexual exploitation, explained to me.
The life, which she entered at age 14, was "like a drug." She felt wanted. She brought in $4,000 to $5,000 a week. Sure, she knew girls who were selling themselves against their will. But she could buy things. "I was supposedly involved in a relationship" -- one that ended when police prosecuted her pimp.
The other big problem: The measure prohibits city law enforcement from applying for grants to prosecute human traffickers. That's right, this measure gives a free pass to the human sex-slave trade -- in a city that is a central stop for international sex-trade rings.
A proponent of the measure told Fox News that she believes that it will pass with 75 percent of the vote because the city is "sex-positive."