A transgender woman “sex worker” and third wave feminist supporters of the sex industry protested a prostitution diversion initiative outside a Phoenix church that intends to help Women victimized by prostitution and male violence.
The Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative, which acts as an alternative to criminal charges for arrested sex industry workers, was opposed by the pro-trans Phoenix Sex Worker Organizing Project (SWOP), led by third wave feminist women like this, who believe “sex work” is empowering:
As a part of the initiative, Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local women arrested for prostitution-related offenses and have them choose between a six month diversion program or criminal charges.
According to SWOP, Project ROSE and other diversion programs that require women to attend educational and support groups “ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working.”
Here is a man who consents to prostitute himself:
Monica Jones is angry because he was arrested by an undercover cop and taken to the Project ROSE site. He is a transgender woman of color who attends the Arizona State university School of Social Work and is being charged with “manifestation” and faces up to 30 days to six months in jail for just accepting a ride from a stranger and asking him if he was a cop when he would not let him out of the car when he asked to leave.
The Project Phoenix website says that prostitution is many women’s means to survive, and if provided new opportunities, the majority of women would gladly leave the industry.
Operation Street Light president Lea Benson feels the reasoning behind the protest doesn’t hold true for most women involved.
“We help young women beginning at age 13 who get involved in sex work. What these girls don’t realize is that they are victims. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to do this,” Benson said.
Proposers of Project Phoenix believe that this is possible by raising awareness of prostitution and providing support for women involved in prostitution.