January 17, 2018

Historic Decision by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds California’s Prostitution Law

Washington, DC – The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today handed down a unanimous decision in the case of Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) v. Gascón upholding California’s prostitution law. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of itself and several other anti-sexual exploitation organizations, some led by survivors of prostitution, in support of the state. The brief urged the court to recognize prostitution as inherently dehumanizing and harmful and uphold the state law.

“Today’s unanimous decision is a historic moment in the movement for freedom from sexual exploitation, and most of all, for victims and survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking,” said Patrick Trueman, President of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and co-author of the amicus brief. “The court has powerfully voiced that prostitution is not a form of work as the plaintiffs alleged, but rather a commercial activity riddled with dangers that the state has a “substantial interest” in preventing—most notably violence against women and sex trafficking of women and children.

“Prostituted persons suffer physical and sexual violence, psychological trauma, and risk disease and life-threatening injuries. Dehumanizing treatment is an everyday reality for victims of this form of sexual exploitation. Overturning California’s prostitution law would not negate this degrading reality, but rather, affirm it. We are grateful that today the Court recognized the inherent harms of prostitution, because sexual exploitation should be nobody’s job.”

For further background on ESPLERP v. Gascón, click here. For more information on NCOSE’s work on the issue of prostitution, visit our Bright Light on the Red Light project page. To read the Court’s opinion, click here

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