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Sex Workers' Grievance Line

Anonymous Phone Venue Established in San Francisco

For Immediate Release Contact: Cassandra Costello, Aide to Supervisor
Jake McGoldrick, 415-554-7412
September 13, 2006
Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, Director, STD
Prevention & Control, the San Francisco
Department of Public Health, 415-355-2007

Naomi Akers,
Executive Director,
St. James
Infirmary, 415-902-7532

Robyn Few, Director, Sex Workers Outreach
Project USA, 415-341-7656


Anonymous Phone Venue Established
As Part of Needs Assessment for Sexworker Community

San Francisco Supervisor Jake McGoldrick and Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner,
Director of San Francisco's STD Prevention & Control Section of the
Department of Public Health announced today that in collaboration with the
St. James Infirmary and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA)
they have established an anonymous telephone message line in which sex
industry workers may share their concerns about their unique working
conditions.

In addition to the telephone line, which can be reached at 415-355-2040, an
email address has been established in which workers may also share their
concerns at SpeakOut@sfdph. org

One recommendation from the 1996 San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Report was to create an "anonymous grievance venue" where sex industry
workers had the opportunity to anonymously report abuse. Ten years later,
and after many inroads have been made by activists from organizations such
as COYOTE, EDA and SWOP USA, the Police and DA have begun to take reports
of violence and abuse seriously. The formation of this venue is another
step forward to empower the community at large.

As Naomi Akers, Executive Director of the St. James Infirmary described,
"The Sex Worker Community Line was established so sex industry workers who
don't feel comfortable coming forward have both an opportunity to tell
their stories anonymously and to be a part of an effort to address the
legal, social and political barriers they face in their work."

This venue enables workers to empower themselves and will enable experts to
accurately assess the needs of this population.

"It is critically important that our City recognize the needs of this
population and contemplate the ways in which we can bring equality to all
our neighborhoods and communities," said San Francisco Supervisor
Jake McGoldrick who spearheaded the effort to implement this recommendation
from the 1996 San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution Report.

Supervisor McGoldrick added, "This pilot project will enable us to create a
needs assessment, and also provides a voice to a population that has not
been recognized for many years."

Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner said of the project, "From a public health
perspective this is a new opportunity to reach out to a population that we
know by sheer numbers, has largely been silent. I can't anticipate what
outcomes will be achieved, but we will know more at the close of this
six-month pilot project then we do now. My Section works very successfully
with several peer-based health venues and I am all about community
empowerment and putting public health response in the hands of the people.
The more we can help a community to own the solution to health issues, the
more successful we will all be. I look forward to this new collaboration. "

"This is not just a grievance line. It's an opportunity for all members
of the sex industry community to share their concerns, hopes and desires
for the future. In the spirit of the 'anonymous grievance line' advocated
for in the 1996 SF Task Force on Prostitution Report, we created this venue
to reach out further to underserved populations and to be able ultimately
to create a needs assessment for our community. I am grateful to
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, Dr. Klausner and the St. James Infirmary," said
Robyn Few, Executive Director of Sex Workers Outreach Project USA.

The St. James Infirmary was created in 1999 as s collaboration between
COYOTE, EDA and the Department of Public Health and is a peer-based
occupational health clinic in San Francisco, run by current, former and
transitioning sex industry workers for the same population.

SWOP-USA was formed in 2003 by a group of sex workers fighting for their
human rights. It has become one of the largest sex worker rights
organizations in the country with chapters starting in Alabama, Arizona,
California, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and Texas. For additional
information visit the website at www.swop-usa. org.


The Sex Worker Community Line can be reached at 415-355-2040. Participants
may also contact the Sex Worker Community Line at SpeakOut@sfdph. org


Press Conference

WHEN: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
WHERE: City Hall Steps, Polk Street
TIME: 12pm

------------ --------- --------- --------
Cassandra Costello
Legislative Assistant
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
San Francisco District 1
415-554-7412
Fax 415-554-7415

 

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