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WE DID IT! California repeals harmful loitering law

  • Published on
    July 1, 2022
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  • Category:
    Law & Policy
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In a win for trafficking victims’ and sex workers’ rights, California’s Governor Newsom signed the Safer Streets for All Act into law on July 1. Effective January 2023, trafficking victims and sex workers in California will no longer face arrest and criminalization just for walking on the street, or for seeking help.

Safer streets for trafficking victims and sex workers

We are grateful to the Freedom United community for helping make this happen! We handed in over 9,000 Freedom United signatures to Governor Newsom and our California community also called the Governor’s office.

The Safer Streets for All Act, SB 357, repeals section 653.22 of California’s penal code, an archaic and harmful law that criminalizes loitering for the intent to engage in prostitution.

In practice, this law targets victims of trafficking and sex workers, and is applied disproportionately against cis and trans women of color, often working in the sex industry. It also prevents survivors of trafficking from moving on with their lives if they are dealing with the significant challenges posed by acquiring a criminal record.

Senator Scott Wiener who sponsored the bill said:

“This crime is so subjective and inherently profiling that it allows a police officer to arrest someone purely based on how they are dressed, whether they’re wearing high heels and certain kinds of make-up, how they’re wearing their hair, and the like,” Wiener said in the statement. “This criminal provision is inherently discriminatory and targets people not for any action but simply based on how they look.”

Helping survivors move on

The Safer Streets for All Act will now give trafficking survivors the power to clear their names. This is a significant win and makes California a leader in supporting trafficking victims and survivors.

Freedom United campaign partner CAST, a Los Angeles-based anti-trafficking organization, told CNN that  “Arresting sex workers or persons perceived to be sex workers creates environments where people, including survivors, will be arrested and creates barriers to accessing safe housing, legal employment, and overall quality of life.”

But there is still more work to be done. Within California, the United States, and globally, non-punitive responses to sex work are critical for victims of trafficking to be empowered to seek support, secure in the knowledge that they will not be criminalized and punished for their experiences.

Read all about our campaign in our field report.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

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1 year ago

El tener que callar para no denunciar te mata o te quedas callado o te mueres son las amenazas de mi abogado para no denunciar un restaurante de comida rápida famoso que me tenía trabajando contra mi voluntad con amenazas de muerte a un Familiar si no trabajaba 16 horas diarias el problema no eran las 16 horas el problema es que no eran corridas las horas eran de 4 30 de la mañana a las 12 30 pm tenía que regresar a las 4. de la tarde y salir a las 12 30 de la noche y regresar a… Read more »

Margret Egger
Margret Egger
1 year ago

Thank you heaps for all your hard work and congratulations for the positive outcomes. So urgently needed to gat justice into practice.

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