Human trafficking is an issue that continues to plague our city, region and global community. At a time when we should be working to combat this appalling crime, so-called “reform” candidates for the San Francisco Democratic Party support policies that would only exacerbate the issue.
In a recent questionnaire for the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, 10 “reform” candidates for the Democratic Central County Committee declared their support for legalized prostitution in San Francisco by banning all investigations and prosecution of it, opening the door to wide-spread sex trafficking in our city. All 10 of these candidates — Sophie Maxwell, Pratima Gupta, Rafael Mandelman, Cindy Wu, Petra DeJesus, Jon Golinger, Sandra Lee Fewer, Hene Kelly, Brigitte Davila and Norman Yee — appear on Aaron Peskin’s slate card of so-called “reform” candidates.
These candidates paint themselves as outsiders, but they are far from it. They are part of the Peskin Machine, peddling the same wrongheaded policies and divisive tactics that San Franciscans have repeatedly voted against. Their approach to sex trafficking is no different.
In 2008, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom and then-District Attorney Kamala Harris came out in strong opposition to Proposition K, a pro-prostitution measure, criticizing the so-called “progressive” proponents for failing to consider the implications that decriminalization would have on other issues often related to prostitution including drug use, sexual abuse and human trafficking. Feminist titan Gloria Steinem also opposed Prop. K because it was a “trafficker’s dream” and “would declare open season on women and children.” But the Peskin-chaired Democratic Party endorsed Prop. K.
Outraged by this endorsement and fearful of what may happen should the proposition pass, I joined forces with my some of my female colleagues on the DCCC to form “SF Women for Common Sense Government” to create a platform for opposition.
Thankfully, voters handily shot down the proposition at the ballot booth; yet, despite the clear will of San Franciscans, Peskin’s candidates are again pushing sex trafficking on our city.
Our efforts should be focused on expanding services for the victims of sex trafficking and addressing the desperate circumstances that lead many into sex work, not on creating a safe haven for pimps and johns. Our Democratic Party should be promoting common-sense solutions that serve our most vulnerable populations, not stripping law enforcement of the ability to investigate an industry that is laden with exploitation and abuse.
Last month, a San Francisco man named Jamar Geeter was convicted on 16 counts of sex trafficking, pimping, pandering and rape and was sentenced to 97 years to life in state prison. The legal “reforms” that Peskin’s slate endorsed, like Prop. K, would have made it impossible for that conviction to happen. These “reform” candidates are trying to shield people like Geeter.
I think Geeter should be locked up instead. Let’s continue our fight for real progress by increasing the prosecution of traffickers and pimps and investing more resources to support their victims.
Mary Jung is the chairwoman of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and the director of government and community relations at the San Francisco Association of Realtors.