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The GOOD, the BAD, and the WTF...

Are you uncomfortable with this choice of image? A women emerging from a wet t-shirt contest, blindfolded? I hope so. Far from being the arbiter of justice, women are disproportionately left holding the weight and the impact of many laws and policies. Complacency with sexual violence begins with images like this that are so pervasive as to be dismissed as normal. It is not normal. It is not okay. Fortunately, some are fighting back. You can too.

With momentum, laws and policies are taking hold across the nation that will have effects on women across the nation, but in particular those already suffering the injustice of trafficking and exploitation. Here are some updates that we are eager to share with you that reflect The Good, The Bad, and The WTF: Where To Fight, What To Fund, and yes, WTF...

Five updates

  1. The cities of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano are taking actionable measures to address human trafficking in the massage industry and local hotels

  2. SB 1788 attempts to hold hotels civilly liable for not reporting trafficking

  3. SB 357 decriminalizes loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution

  4. Supreme Court ruling on abortion will most likely increase violence, trafficker control, and mortality rates for victims of trafficking

  5. ALI (American Law Institute) is recommending leniency for perpetrators of sexual violence including sexual crimes against minors

Continue reading for more details...


1. City level action gets traction in the fight against trafficking

  • The City of San Juan Capistrano adopted a series of ordinances recommended by the i-5 Freedom Network to address the trafficking that is occurring in the massage industry. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, illicit massage has taken a top spot for trafficking activity in the US (hotels are #3). Far from being content to have regulations on the books, they immediately activated these ordinances and have shut down eight locations as of June 2022, according to Mayor Howard Hart. They are now consulting with the i5FN to bring hotels to the accountability table.

  • The City of San Clemente took steps to create a 3-part plan to implement and activate existing ordinances to abate and prevent further illicit massage establishments. As recommended by i5FN and the Public Safety Committee, the council approved Priority 1 which includes "delegating one staffer as the main point of contact for handling massage parlors, determining staff time for conducting two random inspections of each targeted business each year, and provide training to accomplish such tasks." Priority 2 is a plan to incentivize hotels to meet certain criteria to receive recognition from the City as recommended by the i5FN. Criteria include committing to effective training every 2 years, ensuring proper signage is visible per SB 1193, committing to reporting and building relationship with local law enforcement to name a few. Priority 3 is to host education forums to better inform the community on what the City is doing and how to prevent and report suspected activity.

The GOOD-ish:

2. Hotels are critical to disrupting the cycle of trafficking, so AB 1788 is a baby step in forcing action

  • Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham presented a bill that attempts to hold hotels and motels civilly liable for trafficking on property. AB 1788 will allow hotels to be sued if it can be demonstrated that actual knowledge or reckless disregard of sex trafficking has occurred.

  • This is good in that the carrot methods of getting hotels to truly address trafficking (not just a check-in-the-box for compliance training) remains largely ineffective. Litigants are looking for ways to represent victims and survivors of trafficking for the harm suffered in hotels and motels and this opens the door to get some measure of justice

  • This is only -ish because it requires action to be brought by "a city, county or city and county attorney" preventing a victim to sue independently, and the penalties are fairly low. Starting at $1000 for initial violation and not to exceed $10,000 for subsequent violations

  • It is currently referred to Suspense File, which usually means that normal committee action is suspended until the Finance committee can consider the fiscal impact of the bill.

  • If passed, we would look forward to future amendments and improving the options for victims

The BAD (but may look Good)

3. The decriminalization of loitering for the purposes of soliciting for prostitution will open doors for pimps an sex buyers

  • Yes, SB 357 decriminalizes loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution, which the stated intention is to stop criminalizing the prostituting/prostituted person. Traditionally that person was the only party in the 3 party activity (trafficker and buyer being the other 2 at the party). that would get arrested or face any penalties, which ending that practice is an essential goal of any one fighting for the rights of those engaged in sex work either by choice or by force.

  • The bill paves the way for the full decriminalization of prostitution.

  • Which to be clear, the i5FN does not take a moral or legal position on if it should or should not be legal/decriminalized, but instead we focus on the impacts these laws will have on those we serve, victims and survivors of trafficking

  • Research indicates that the expansion of prostitution leads to an INCREASE IN TRAFFICKING

  • All of the Survivor-leaders that we consult with are not in favor of this action, knowing that it will only turn pimps into CEOs and buyers into fearless users, and limiting the action of law enforcement on every front

The BAD (but may look Good), continued

4. Limiting access to safe abortions for those caught in the life of trafficking may lead to increased violence and threats by traffickers

  • Similarly to the prostitution question, we do not take a stand if over turning the federal right to an abortion was right or wrong, We concern ourselves with the impact of that ruling

  • We stand for the end to violence against women in any circumstance

  • It is true that traffickers often force their victims to get abortions. An extreme version of violence against women, and a removal of choice

  • This ruling will not change whether or not a trafficker will force someone will get an abortion, just how that abortion will occur.

  • The legal situation of abortion in a country does not influence the abortion rate, but illegality is associated with a much greater risk of complications and death

  • Conversely, a trafficker may force a pregnancy upon a victim for the purposes of control, manipulation, and continued supply for sex or labor services.

  • Knowing that a pregnancy may tie a victim to her abuser and risk continued abuse for the child, victims may seek an abortion. If there is no access to do this safely, they may seek alternative, potentially deadly, methods

The WTF...

5. American Law Institute (ALI) rolls back consequences for perpetrators of sexual violence

  • ALI is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law

  • However, they made recommendations that would disregard the impact on victims of human trafficking

  • It would reduce the penalties against sexual violence

  • Increase the barriers to define non-consent, making it harder to prosecute sexual violence

  • Remove the sexual predator registry, and not require those convicted of rape, to include showing that rape on the internet, to register as a sex offender

  • And according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) people who purchase children for sex would be immune from state sex trafficking charges and wouldn’t be listed on the sex offender registry.

  • 38 state Attorneys General wrote in protest to these recommendations: "The proposed changes will significantly affect the safety of survivors and victims, and the integrity of the prosecutions we undertake to obtain justice on their behalf"

WTF: Where to Fight:

  • If you want to learn more about how to bring action to your city on massage establishments or hotel incentives, contact us:

  • If you want to receive updates on any bills or laws that impact human trafficking including the path toward legalizing/decriminalizing prostitution, sign up for updates here

  • If you would like to know more about how to strengthen hotels against human trafficking, would like your favorite hotel to demonstrate CSR by taking a stand against trafficking, or would like to know our latest efforts there, feel free to reach out to us here for free resources

  • Read more about how to have your voice heard on ALI recommendations

  • If you are interested in learning more or to schedule a speaker on any of these topics please contact me here: We have Survivor leaders prepared to educate and present perspectives on any HT related topic so that you can know more so you can do more.

WTF: What to Fund:

  • Help us keep this fight going and donate to the i-5 Freedom Network Advocacy efforts. There is so much work to be done and an incredible sense of urgency

  • Empower survivors through our Way2Work initiatives by giving them the voice and opportunity to turn their trauma into training and community education. We compensate our speakers for their Subject Matter Expertise to educate you on what is true and real in the fight against trafficking

  • Support our efforts to make hotels safer for you and your family during your summer travels. Survivors of hotel-based trafficking both Inform our outreach and deliver training. We cannot do this work without you!

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