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Close The Rape Loopholes-California Reguation 649.56

Re: Closing the Rape Loopholes in California State Laws and Regulations.

Rape loopholes are loosely defined as attitudes and actions that diminish in any way a rape victim’s ability to be treated as a person worthy of all the protections otherwise afforded rape victims under the law. This includes attitudes and actions that excuse the rapist in any way or fail to hold the rapist fully accountable for their actions.

Recently, a man convicted as a rapist had his conviction overturned in the appellate courts because he posed as a boyfriend to the victims, which isn’t counted in the definition of a rapist. To remedy this loophole, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) has proposed legislation, AB 65, that would expand the definition of rape to include cases where a perpetrator impersonates a person’s boyfriend or girlfriend.

Another example of a rape loophole is found in the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) Rule 649.56, which states:
Involvement in the Qualifying Crime of Prostitution is grounds for denial of funds. Involvement in the events leading to the qualifying crime of prostitution by the victim may be found if the victim was:
* Engaged in activity related to prostitution.
* The qualifying crime occurred as a direct result of the activity related to prostitution.
Activity related to prostitution includes, but is not limited to the following:
* Soliciting or participating in the solicitation of an act of prostitution.
* Purchasing or participating in the purchase of an act of prostitution.
* Engaging in an act of prostitution.

When victims are raped during an act of prostitution, or what is perceived to be an act of prostitution, and then are denied access to the VCF, they and their injuries are being treated with lesser value than other rape victims. Clearly this discrimination constitutes a loophole. When victims of rape are belittled in this way, it sends the wrong message to the public and to would-be rapists; that anyone can treat prostitutes as badly as they please and the resulting injuries will never be fully treated as such.

In a recent public notice, the VCF Board has proposed changes to regulation 649.56 so that victims of trafficking can access the VCF without being disqualified because they worked as prostitutes.
While we applaud efforts to obtain justice for any victims who are injured while working as prostitutes, because prostitution shouldn’t be criminalized anyway, this proposed amendment to regulation 649.56 will only further stigmatizes prostitutes who are not deemed to be trafficking victims, or who refuse to be identified as such.
The purported purpose for amending Rule 649.56 is to ensure consistent decisions about awards, but in fact it creates even more inconsistencies and further discriminates against those who are victimized while engaged in prostitution, or perceived to be engaged in prostitution, by creating another arbitrary loophole.
For rape victims who sustained injuries while working in the sex industry, their only means to accessing public services such as the VCF would be to identify as a trafficked victim. What if you commit a consensual act of prostitution one minute but a nonconsensual act the next? And isn’t that what rape is, a nonconsensual act?

These arbitrary decisions of who can be a victim and thereby deserves access to public services can be seen in our daily newspapers, whereby people who are working as prostitutes are generally seen as not worthy. In an example in 2011 San Diego, a prosecutor authorized three years of probation for a former sheriff because of concerns as to whether a jury would be able to agree that the victim, a prostitute, had been raped. This is of grave importance to public safety in light of the fact that many rapes go unreported in general, but especially when the victim’s occupation overshadows prosecution and compensation.

Even the Obama administration stated that, “We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution” in the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in 2010.

The VCF is one such public service, and victims ought not be denied justice because their injuries occurred while working as prostitutes. The VCF governing board should remove this discriminating regulation all together instead of creating yet another loophole that a victim and perpetrator alike will surely fall through.
The legislature ought to act to close all loopholes and not allow these discriminatory regulations in the first place.

The Victim Compensation Board is taking written comments on their new regulation until February 11, 2013 to Geoffrey Feusahrens at the Victums Compensation GC Board

California Victims Compensation Fund regulation # 649.56 which states:

Recently, a rape victims was denied access to the VCF as 649.56 regulation was sighted.
California State regulation 649.56
. Involvement in the Qualifying Crime of Prostitution: Involvement in the events leading to the qualifying crime of prostitution by the victim may be found if the victim was:

* Engaged in activity related to prostitution.

* The qualifying crime occurred as a direct result of the activity related to prostitution. Activity related to prostitution includes, but is not limited to the following:

* Soliciting or participating in the solicitation of an act of prostitution.

* Purchasing or participating in the purchase of an act of prostitution.

* Engaging in an act of prostitution.

* Pimping as defined in California Penal Code, section 266h.

* Pandering as defined in California Penal Code, section 266i. perptrators impersonating customers.

California State regulation 649.56. Involvement in the Qualifying Crime of Prostitution:
Involvement in the events leading to the qualifying crime of prostitution by the victim may be found if the victim was:

* Engaged in activity related to prostitution.
* The qualifying crime occurred as a direct result of the activity related to prostitution.

Activity related to prostitution includes, but is not limited to the following:

* Soliciting or participating in the solicitation of an act of prostitution.
* Purchasing or participating in the purchase of an act of prostitution.
* Engaging in an act of prostitution.
* Pimping as defined in California Penal Code, section 266h.
* Pandering as defined in California Penal Code, section 266i.
perptrators impersonating customers.

The controlling status which directs the function and the scope of the administration of the VCF is here: California PENAL CODE
SECTION 13835-13835.10

Please join us in calling upon your state legislators implement anti discrimination legislation making it illegal to discriminate in state or non profit services, housing, employment, education and child custody awards based on occupancy of prostitution and on behalf of all erotic service providers: Phone sex operators, webcam performers, adult film performers, exotic dancers, prostitutes, escorts, Pro doms and subs.

references:
Silent victims: Violence and the sex industry Dec 27, 2012

Obama administration accepts recommendation #86 from the UN’s periodic review of human rights.

86, 112: Undertake awareness-raising campaigns for combating stereotypes and violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, and ensure access to public services paying attention to the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses..