Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sex workers rounded up in Arizona and pushed into church-based programs without charges

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/03/sex-workers-rounded-up-in-arizona-and-pushed-into-church-based-programs-without-charges/

By Travis Gettys
Monday, March 3, 2014

Police in Arizona have been rounding up sex workers and bringing them in handcuffs to a Phoenix-area church to meet with investigators and choose between a diversion program or possible jail time.

Police and students from Arizona State’s School of Social Work have detained more than 350 people since 2011 in twice-a-year raids.

The sex workers are not officially “arrested,” police told Vice, but are “lawfully detained” in windowless church rooms without a lawyer present.

They are required to attend educational and support groups as part of the diversion, but critics say the program does not consider that some sex workers are not victims in need of rescue but consenting adults who chose their line of work.

About 35 percent of the sex workers picked up in the raids go on to lead productive lives, said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research and an Arizona State professor.

Roe-Sepowitz, who founded Project ROSE, said the other 65 percent just aren’t ready to leave sex work behind or are still dealing with the abusive relationships or drug addictions that drove them there.

“Once you’ve prostituted you can never not have prostituted,” Roe-Sepowitz said. “Having that many body parts in your body parts, having that many body fluids near you, and doing things that are freaky and weird really messes up your ideas of what a relationship looks like, and intimacy.”

Taxpayers pick up most of the program’s cost, including $1,500 per day to Bethany Bible Church during the two-day raids every six months.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/03/sex-workers-rounded-up-in-arizona-and-pushed-into-church-based-programs-without-charges/

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